The museum has been protected since its looting, but archaeological sites in Iraq were left almost entirely unprotected by coalition forces, and there has been massive looting, starting from the early days of the warfare and between summer 2003 and the end of 2007. After World War I, archaeologists from Europe and the United States began several excavations throughout Iraq. The museum has opened its doors only partially since September 1980 during the Iran-Iraq War. The history of Iraq, the history of civilization, is being looted and destroyed. On April 12, 2003, The Associated Press reported: "The famed Iraq National Museum, home of extraordinary Babylonian, Sumerian and Assyrian collections and rare Islamic texts, sat empty Saturday – except for shattered glass display cases and cracked pottery bowls that littered the floor. Rather than focus only on law enforcement and the current antiquities market, the group set its mission as being to (1) establish a comprehensive online catalog of all cultural artifacts in the museum's collection, (2) create a virtual Baghdad Museum that is accessible to the general public over the Internet, (3) build a 3D collaborative workspace within the virtual Baghdad Museum for design and fundraising purposes, and (4) establish a resource center within the virtual Baghdad Museum for community cultural development. Firas Abbas of the Iraqi Federal Police, was to gain access to the museum vault. Since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, it has opened only rarely, opened on July 3, 2003 for several hours for a visit by journalists and Coalition Provisional Authority head J. Paul Bremer, as a signal that things were returning to normal. In early 2014, months before ISIS' lightning seizure of Mosul in June of the same year, around 1,700 items from the museum's total collection of 2,400 were moved to Baghdad, not because anyone had any inkling of what was to come, but because the Mosul Museum was set for a major facelift. The Iraq Museum (formal title in English) (Arabic: المتحف العراقي) (formal title in Arabic) is the national museum of Iraq, a museum located in Baghdad, Iraq. Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz of the U.S. third Infantry Division declared that he "was unable to enter the compound and secure it since they attempted to avoid returning fire at the building. 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[37], On January 30, 2012, a 6,500-year-old Sumerian gold jar, the head of a Sumerian battle axe and a stone from an Assyrian palace were among 45 relics returned to Iraq by Germany. After being closed for many years while being refurbished, and rarely open for public viewing, the museum was officially reopened in February 2015. The museum also has galleries devoted to collections of both pre-Islamic and Islamic Arabian art and artefacts. Old manuscripts found inside the Mosul museum. On June 9, 2009, the treasures of the Iraq Museum went online for the first time as Italy inaugurated the Virtual Museum of Iraq. In December 2008, the museum was opened for a photo opportunity for Ahmad Chalabi, who returned a number of artifacts supposedly handed in to him by Iraqis. It is sometimes mistakenly called the National Museum of Iraq, a recent phenomenon influenced by other nations' naming of their national museums; but The Iraq Museum's name is inspired by the name of the British Museum. Empty cabinets, their doors clearly wrenched off, are visible through twisted steel bars. Various ancient items believed looted from the museum have surfaced in neighboring countries on their way to the United States, Israel, Europe, Switzerland, and Japan, and on even on eBay. [9], The U.S. government was criticised for doing nothing to protect the museum after occupying Baghdad. The United States and Italian governments have both contributed to the renovation effort. National Museum, Baghdad: 10 Years Later. The accurate figure was around 15,000 items, including 5,000 extremely valuable cylinder seals. Thanassis Cambanis and Charles M. Sennott. Iraqi staff as a protective measure had built a fortified wall along the western side of the compound, allowing concealed movement between the front and rear of the museum, and the U.S. forces could have secured the museum by simply encircling and isolating it preventing the looters from accessing the facility.