Afghanistan Kabul National Gallery Travel guide Sightseeing Trip Advisor info tour booking. An audio guide was narrated by National Gallery of Art director Earl A. Powell III, with commentary by curator Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic Society; Sanjyot Mehendale, University of California, Berkeley; and archaeologist Paul Bernard, Paris, France. A 28-minute documentary film, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures, produced by the National Geographic Society and narrated by Khaled Hosseini, was shown in the East Building Large and Small Auditoriums from July through September. A 12-minute segment of the film was show in the exhibition. Additional documentaries were presented as part of a program, Afghanistan on Film, which included recent documentaries, contemporary drama, and short media works.
Exhibition curator Fredrik Hiebert presented an opening-day lecture. A children’s choir, led by Afghan singer and arranger Vaheed Kaacemy, performed in the East Building Auditorium that day to celebrate the English translation of the songbook Children’s Songs from Afghanistan. A concert of traditional Afghan music led by Kaacemy was held in the evening.
In celebration of the exhibition, a special menu by Washington-area chefs was offered at the Garden Café: Silk Road.
Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Geographic Society and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic Society, was curator.
Sponsor: In Washington the exhibition was made possible by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. It was also supported by The Charles Engelhard Foundation. Corporate support was provided by National Construction & Logistics and Hamed Wardak. The exhibition was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.The brochure was made possible by the National Geographic Society.
Catalog: Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, edited by Fredrik Hiebert and Pierre Cambon. Washington: National Geographic Society, 2008.
Brochure: Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul by Fredrik Hiebert and Susan Arensberg. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2008.
The Afghanistan National Art Gallery was first established in 1983. The gallery began with only 200 paintings, most of them coming from the museum and presidential palace. By 1991, the number of paintings and other objects of art had grown to 820 pieces.
Unfortunately, during the civil war, 410 paintings were either destroyed or stolen. During the last five years about 90% of the damaged and stolen artifacts and paintings have been recovered.
Paintings in the collection include oil, watercolor, calligraphy, hand embroidery, miniatures, mosaics, sculptures, and woodcarvings. The paintings represent styles of realism, impressionism, and cubism, among others.
According to the brochure put out by the Afghanistan National Art Gallery, “Friends of the National Gallery of Afghanistan” have funded this restoration program.”
However, while the bullet holes have been removed from the outside walls, and the building is in decent repair, it should not in anyway be considered a finished project.
Paintings are hung in a building with absolutely no climate control. Some paintings have no protective glass over them. Flash photography is allowed in the museum, and along with the dust which permeates everywhere in Kabul, further deterioration is likely occurring.
There is no proper lighting in the gallery – care should be taken to visit the gallery in the mid-to-late morning when the sunlight is shining in the windows.
Some of the work of the current master artists may be found at the Afghanistan National Gallery. It is both a pleasure and sad to visit the National Art Gallery in Kabul. The paintings are absolutely amazing. The mosaic art displayed, for example, is stunning in the artist’s intricate use of walnut shells and bits of straw to create amazingly intricate paintings.
However, to see the lack of care of the art does not bring the honor these great men and women artists deserve for their relatively unrecognized talent.
Make sure you sign the guest book when you go – it’s at the end of the hallway on the first floor. Cost is $5/person to get in, although children are usually free at most Afghan sites.