A nation stays alive when its culture stays alive.

The Story

Sneak Peak

Get just a small taste of the wonders that await you at the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures exhibition.

This acclaimed exhibition showcases treasures that miraculously survived war and chaos in Afghanistan. These stunning objects, from the National Museum in Kabul, were hidden for 20 years by a group of brave Afghans. Today, they shine anew, unveiling the secrets of a rich and diverse ancient culture.

The story of how these irreplaceable artifacts and works of art were hidden, then rediscovered, is worthy of a spy novel. The gripping tale of human courage and international cooperation that ultimately saved them adds a dramatic dimension to the exhibition.

In 1979, Afghanistan was thrown into a period of chaos. Since that time, the country’s inhabitants, its infrastructure and cultural heritage have suffered immense harm. Therefore, it is something of a miracle that a significant portion of this treasured legacy of artifacts survived over the past three decades.

The story behind this exhibition begins in 1978 as political instability threatened the country. A group of dedicated museum staff and government officials resolved to protect the precious contents of the National Museum of Afghanistan from looting and destruction. They risked their lives to secretly transfer thousands of artifacts and works of art to secure hiding places in the Ministry of Information and Culture, and in the Central Bank vault under the Presidential Palace. They locked the doors of the vault with seven keys, which they then distributed to seven trusted individuals.

In 2003, the government revealed the hiding place and, with some effort, assembled the keepers of the keys. At last, the vault could be opened and its dazzling contents revealed. A team of local and international experts witnessed the historic occasion, including National Geographic Society Fellow Fredrik Hiebert and Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi, whose team had excavated the Tillya Tepe site in the 1970s.

Soon after, Afghanistan announced to the world that the Bactrian Hoard and other precious artifacts had been recovered, and assembled an international team to catalogue, preserve and exhibit the collections.