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Saddam Hussein’s former home is now a museum

The building will undergo a $3.9 million renovation to become home of the Basrah Museum’s antiquities collection

The Lakeside Palace in Basra, Iraq, was just one of nearly 100 homes built by dictator Saddam Hussein to house his family, mistresses, and friends. The mock-Rococo building was abandoned in 2003 and used as a mess hall for the British army until 2008.

With the help of a British charity, Friends of Basrah Museum, and partial funding from the oil company BP, the palace is now home to the Basrah Museum, a collection of antiquities dating back to 400 B.C. The museum’s mission is to illustrate the history of Iraq from roughly 3300 B.C. through 1800 A.D.

At the moment, just one gallery of the 10,763-square-foot exhibition space is open, at an estimated cost of $750,000. More than $3 million more dollars are needed to renovate the remaining space, which will include an additional four permanent galleries, a temporary exhibition space, gift shop, cafe, education center, and administrative space.

Museum Director Qahtan al-Obaid told the Associated Press, "replace the themes of dictatorship and tyranny with civilianization and humanity."