The Italian-Iraqi Cultural Centre

On 4 April 2016, the Italian-Iraqi Cultural Centre for Archaeology and Restoration was inaugurated in Baghdad. It occupies a historical building located in the heart of the old city, a few steps away from the entrance to the suq and the Qislah, the Ottoman-era military district. Successor to the Italian-Iraqi Institute of Archaeology and the Italian-Iraqi Centre for Restoration – founded in 1969 and closed in 2003 after the looting suffered during the outbreak of the Iraq War – the Italian-Iraqi Cultural Centre is above all a place of meeting and exchange of experiences, knowledge, and skills among professionals in the cultural heritage sector. Equipped with solar panels and computer stations, it has a small archaeological library and digital archive, and an internal cafeteria. Since its opening, it has hosted several workshops and seminars led by international institutions, and has functioned as the main venue for the training activities of the Centro Scavi Torino in Iraq. Every year, seminars and courses of methodology, archaeometry, digital techniques applied to archaeological sites and artefacts, conservation and restoration, museology, and heritage protection and management are held there. The courses, organised by the Centro Scavi Torino in collaboration with the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro (ISCR), the World Monuments Fund, the Carabinieri NTPC, and Italian and foreign universities, are attended by the staff of the Iraq Museum and the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH).

Thanks to the excellent relationship with the local authorities and the Italian Embassy in Iraq, the Italian-Iraqi Cultural Centre has quickly become a reference for the local communities, also proposing a range of cultural activities open to a non-expert public. Italian language courses (Levels A1 and A2), held by a teacher of Italian language and literature from the University of Baghdad, for instance, are open to the citizens every year. Moreover, the building is used for events such as concerts, photo exhibitions, book presentations, and conferences organised by Iraqi and Italian institutions and associations operating in the country.

Since its reopening in 2016 until today, the Italian-Iraqi Cultural Centre has delivered 20 among workshops and courses, for a total of about 400 training hours involving more than 300 participants. In June 2019, it also organised a one-month residential training at the La Venaria Reale Conservation and Restoration Centre (CCR, Turin), which was attended by three restorers from the Iraq Museum.