Museums guard Yemen's past as war wrecks present

Yemen's museums, the richest on the Arabian peninsula, stand testimony to the toll war has taken on the country's cultural heritage.

In the disputed city of Taiz, nature has entwined with the scars of conflict to leave the historic National Museum building in ruins - where acacia trees have taken root and helped to pull down walls.

Charred manuscripts, burned shelves and shattered glass are scattered inside.

It's not just the shelling...the collections were also looted, and storerooms burned down.

The museum has lost around 70% of its collection, though some stolen artefacts have been recovered from local markets and volunteers have brought back other pieces.

This is Ahmed Jassar, director of antiquities:

"We know that many of those articles have been smuggled outside Taiz and even abroad. It is not easy to get them out of Yemen, only powerful people with international connections can do that."

In the national museum in the capital, Sanaa, a bronze, sixth-century statue is a lucky survivor.

But not all artefacts fared so well, says director Ibrahim al-Hadi.

"When the Saudi-American air strikes on our country started and they started targeting buildings and other areas around the museum, that led to the destruction of some artefacts and cracks in the walls of the building itself."

The museum miraculously escaped years of bombing by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in their war against the Houthi group, and most of its collection was moved to safe rooms.