THE RETRIEVAL OF KUWAIT NATIONAL MUSEUM'S COLLECTIONS FROM IRAQ: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE OPERATION AND LESSONS LEARNED
3 3. THE REMOVAL OF THE COLLECTIONS TO IRAQ
The disappearance of the National Museum and Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah collections was not, on the whole, the result of random looting, and this situation was to be one of the most significant factors in their recovery. When they were ready to do so, the Iraqis sent staff from their Department of Antiquities to assess and pack what they wanted from the two collections. They took the whole of Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah and approximately 60–70% of the National Museum collection, leaving behind much of the larger modern ethnographic material. It transpired later that the Iraqis involved had been working under a deadline imposed by the army and did not have time to take everything. They were methodical enough, however, to take all documentation for both collections.
Dar al-Athar numbered some 3,000 objects of varied media and an Islamic art and history library of some 3,000 books. The National Museum was more difficult to quantify. At the time of the recovery operation the director estimated the material in Iraq at about 26,000 objects. In the end there proved to be more than 40,000. The National Museum Library numbered approximately 15,000–20,000 books.