Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Arts Minister Simon Crean today announced that the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of the National Museum, Kabul exhibition would tour Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane in 2013 and 2014.
Comprising more than 230 artefacts dating from sites along the Silk Road between 2200 BC to AD 200, the exhibition attests to the role Afghanistan has played as a crossroads of the ancient world.
Senator Carr said the items were feared destroyed after Soviet occupation and civil war in Afghanistan, and were kept hidden by museum staff during the period of Taliban rule.
"The exhibition illustrates the motto of Afghanistan's National Museum – 'a nation stays alive when its culture stays alive'," Senator Carr said.
"The human stories behind these artefacts add to their value as a cultural record of ancient Afghanistan."
Minister Crean said the exhibition highlights the important role cultural diplomacy and exchange plays in strengthening Australia's engagement with the rest of the world.
"Arts and culture are the essence of our identity and how we understand each other people-to-people, country-to-country and region-to-region," Mr Crean said.
"The partnership between Australian and Afghan state museums and galleries is a fusion of cultures that will reinforce the strength of our identity and our engagement with Afghanistan and the rest of the world.
"As home to one of the oldest cultures on earth and also welcoming to greater diversity of cultures, we are thrilled to bring the Hidden Treasures exhibition to Australia."
The Australian Government has provided diplomatic and financial support to bring the exhibition to Australian audiences, following successful tours of the Hidden Treasures to the United States and Europe.
The exhibition will tour the Melbourne Museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Queensland Museum and the Museum of Western Australia.
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