BASRA, IRAQ - The lakeside palace of former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, has been transformed into an artefact-filled art museum. The Basra Museum is the first museum to open in the country in decades.

Following the death of Hussein in 2003, the palace was used as a cafeteria for British troops. After the evacuation of the British in 2008, Iraqi locals began an international movement to obtain funds geared towards the restoration of the then-heavily-damaged property.

Museum director Qahtan al-Obaid, told the Associated Press that he selected the location so as to remove the traces of dictatorship and tyranny and replacing it with civilization and humanity. He also proceeded to express hopes that the museum's opening will revive culture and tradition in Basra.

After eight years of hard work, fund-raising, and campaigning, the Basra Museum has opened its doors to reveal the 4,000 artefacts and exhibits from Iraq's ancient periods. However, due to heavy repair costs and a lack of adequate funding, only one of the museum's intended four halls have been made open to the public.

According to Forbes, the restoration of the hall totalled about $750,000 for repairs and renovations. The same source indicated that the raising of the funds for the initial hall was done with the support of a British charity known as Friends of Basrah Museum.

Iraqi locals behind the building of the museum have expressed their hopes of showing their fellow Iraqis a way to better understand their history, as well as show them Iraq in a different light. The museum seeks to celebrate its great ancient civilization without featuring the dark destruction of the modern day.

A post made through the Basra Screen Instagram account states that the reopening of the largest museum in the city is an essential step in the conservation of the land's tribal heritage. It also continues to state that it is their hope to bring knowledge and tradition to the country's new generations.

Basra Museum is prepared to receive visitors on Sundays to Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every week. Inquiries and donations may be made via the Friends of Basrah Museum website.