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'Hidden Treasures' Exhibit Opens Final U.S. Show in New York

The critically acclaimed exhibit "Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul" will open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on June 23, 2009 for what will be the final show in an 18-month tour of the U.S. A press preview will be held on Monday, June 15.

The exhibit features 228 artifacts from Afghanistan dating back 4,000 years, including the famed Bactrian Gold collection. Initially uncovered by French and Russian archeologists in the 1970s, these prized reminders of Afghanistan’s long and diverse history were hidden away by ordinary Afghans in the days leading up to the Soviet invasion of 1979 and kept concealed during the days of Taliban rule. It was only in 2003 that they were brought out from their places of hiding, exposing to world view a part of Afghan history that had long been feared lost to conflict and strife.

With the invaluable help of the National Geographic Society and support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the exhibit came to the U.S. in May 2008, opening at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. to rave reviews. It then travelled to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California – home of the country's largest Afghan community – and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. The exhibit has been viewed by close to 750,000 people to date.

"Afghanistan is a mosaic of Western and Eastern cultures, the roundabout of the Silk Road and the crossroad of civilizations and invasions," said Ambassador Said T. Jawad. "These Hidden Treasures are a fusion of Roman, Greek, Persian, Chinese, Indian and Balkan art influences with unique Afghan and Bactrian characteristics. They speak to Afghanistan’s ancient history as well as its present day struggles. They showcase the sacrifices of our people to protect and preserve Afghanistan’s heritage," he stated.

"Today, Afghanistan is once again regaining its historic role of bridging cultures, countries and civilizations," added Ambassador Jawad. "These crown jewels show the ancient Afghanistan that exists beyond what we read in the news and see on TV. It is a country of long history, rich heritage, breathtaking beauty and dynamic trade and commerce. A past that is as brilliant and beautiful as the gold on display here, covered by the ashes of war and neglect."

The exhibit will remain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until September 20, 2009. It will travel to Canada and Europe before returning to its home at the National Museum in Kabul.

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