Iraq opened a new antiquities museum in the city of Basra on Tuesday, displaying ancient pottery, coins and other artifacts.
Because of a shortage of money, only one hall was opened, said Qahtan al-Obaid, the museum’s director. It will showcase items dating to 400 B.C. that tell the history of the oil-rich city on the Persian Gulf.
The museum is housed in a former palace of Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq who was overthrown in the U.S.-led invasion of that country in 2003. British troops had briefly used the palace as a mess hall, or cafeteria, after the invasion.
Obaid said the location was chosen to “replace the themes of dictatorship and tyranny with civilization and humanity.”
The museum was partly paid for by a British charity. The hall that opened Tuesday cost an estimated $750,000.
Basra has been inhabited for thousands of years, with the current city dating to around A.D. 637.