ICOM Palmyra-Gespräch "Schutz des Kulturerbes in Afghanistan" / ICOM Palmyra-Talk "Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Afghanistan"

14. Oktober 2021, Online (ZOOM)


14. Oktober 2021
15:00 Uhr
Online (ZOOM)





Bettina Leidl, Präsidentin, ICOM Österreich
Jonathan Fine, Direktor, Weltmuseum Wien


Fahim Rahimi, Director, National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul


“Why Cultural Heritage Matters: An exploration of the National Museum of Afghanistan and its collections”
Em. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Deborah Klimburg-Salter



ICOM Österreich setzt sich dafür ein, das öffentliche Bewusstsein für die Bewahrung unseres gemeinsamen kulturellen Erbes zu stärken und auf den wichtigen Kampf gegen den illegalen Handel mit Kulturgütern hinzuweisen.


Das ICOM Palmyra-Gespräch findet in Kooperation mit dem Weltmuseum Wien, gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlichen Dienst und Sport und mit freundlicher Unterstützung des Bundesministeriums für europäische und internationale Angelegenheiten statt.




ICOM Palmyra-Talk
Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Afghanistan


On October 14, 2021
Starting at 15:00 / 3 pm (Vienna, AT time)
Online (ZOOM)





Bettina Leidl, President, ICOM Austria
Jonathan Fine, Director, Weltmuseum Wien


Fahim Rahimi, Director, National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul


“Why Cultural Heritage Matters: An exploration of the National Museum of Afghanistan and its collections”
Em. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Deborah Klimburg-Salter



Univ.-Prof. Dr. Deborah Klimburg-Salter


Project Director
University of Vienna / Harvard University
Universität Wien
Institut für Kunstgeschichte
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 9 (Campus), 1090 Wien


Klimburg-Salter received a PhD at Harvard University and Habilitation from the University of Vienna. She has taught the art history of South, Central, and Southeast Asia as well as Tibet and the Himalayan regions as Univ. Prof. at the University of Vienna’s Department of Art History and as Guest Professor at distinguished universities in Europe, North America, and Asia. She was founding Director of CIRDIS (Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Documentation of Inner and South Asia) at the University of Vienna until 2015, and since 2014, she has been an Associate of the Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University. She is a Member of the Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton; Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin; Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies (JNIAS), Delhi; and previously Visiting Fellow, Magdalen College, Oxford University. In 2020, she received the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Wilhelm Härtel Prize for her scholarly achievements in the field of Asian Art History.


Klimburg-Salter has conducted extensive fieldwork in Historical Northwest India, Afghanistan, and Tibet. Her interests in Translational Art History resulted in monographic studies of Buddhist monastic art and architecture in their art historical, geo-political, and transcultural contexts: (1989) The Kingdom of Bāmiyān: The Buddhist Art and Culture of the Hindu Kush; (1997) Tabo. A Lamp for the Kingdom.


A longstanding interest in Technical Art History and conservation led to research and publications regarding the materiality of objects as well as the technology and processes of production, distribution, and consumption. This remains a central interest of her present research. She has curated a number of international exhibits accompanied by catalogues, including: (1982) The Silk Route and the Diamond Path: Esoteric Buddhist Art on the Trans-Himalayan Trade Routes; (1995) Buddha in Indien. Die frühindische Skulptur von König Aśoka bis zur Guptazeit; and most recently Alla scoperta del Tibet -- Le spedizioni di Giuseppe Tucci e i dipinti Tibetani / Discovering Tibet -- The Tucci Expeditions and Tibetan Painting (Rome and Genoa, 2015/2016); and as Unknown Tibet, the Tucci Expeditions and Buddhist Painting (New York, 2018). She co-curated Bön. Geister aus Butter -- Kunst und Ritual des alten Tibet (Vienna, 2013).


Long-term research on the historical monuments of these different regional cultures led to an awareness of how the arts and monuments transformed and took on new meanings over time. Thus Klimburg-Salter has worked together with local communities to encourage heritage preservation and post-colonial cultural heritage awareness. She co-founded the Nako Research and Preservation Project and The Committee for the Scientific Study and Preservation of Tibetan Art and Historic Architecture, IATS (International Association for Tibetan Studies). Since 2003, she has worked with UNESCO projects related to heritage preservation in Afghanistan. Since 2005, she has directed the Kabul Museum Project, a capacity building and curatorial training project in collaboration with the National Museum of Afghanistan (Kabul) and CIRDIS.



Help protect Afghanistan's cultural heritage from your laptop - ICOM

Wikimedia and ICOM have joined forces to mobilise the Wiki community and Internet users to protect Afghan cultural heritage at risk of looting and illicit traffic


Following the humanitarian and political crisis of August 2021, the international community has watched with growing concern the events unfolding across Afghanistan. Vandals and thieves will profit of the instability to steal or destroy cultural heritage for a variety of reasons, including personal gain or political motivation. To protect it, we need to work together – and everybody can help, even from their laptop.


Nowadays, many of the illicit transactions involving cultural heritage happen online on social media or e-commerce platforms. To respond to the emergency in Afghanistan and the migration of these kinds of crimes to online platforms, ICOM and Wikimedia CH have worked together to give the ICOM Red List of Afghanistan Antiquities at Risk maximum visibility and diversify its use online. “We highly valued ICOM’s invitation to partner in this project and immediately accepted the task to set up the initial project page, and to motivate wikipedians and other people who feel concerned about Afghanistan’s cultural heritage to engage for this cause”, says Jenny Ebermann, Executive Director of Wikimedia CH.


How to participate

If you have knowledge and access to media files and collections depicting objects from categories included in the Red List of ICOM regarding the Afghan Antiquities at risk, that are in public domain or available under a CC-BY-SA license, you can upload them to Wikimedia Commons and make them visible in a dedicated image gallery available here. As a beginner or intermediate Wikipedia author, you also can contribute by improving and completing an existing article about Afghanistan cultural objects at risk and insert images, links, sources or Wikidata info boxes. If you are an Wikipedia expert you might engage in creating a completely new article or translate an existing article in a different language.


Link to the WIKI Project Page:




Wikimedia CH has set up an outreach dashboard for this project, where you can share with us your work. If you want to enroll and assign the articles or categories you are working on, click on the action button below




ICOM Statement concerning the situation facing cultural heritage in Afghanistan