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Opening of Iran's Islamic Era, Pre-historic Age Museums

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Compiled By: Firouzeh Mirrazavi
Deputy Editor of Iran Review

The Islamic Era Museum reopened after a nine-year hiatus during a ceremony attended by First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri and Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) Director Masud Soltanifar.

Located in the courtyard of the National Museum of Iran, the three-story building was established in 1996 in an area covering about 4,000 square meters, but it was closed several times for different reasons, however it was reopened after the restoration process had been completed.

A collection of 1500 items in 170 windows are on display on the first and second floors of the museum while the ground floor has been dedicated to temporary exhibits, CHTHO Deputy Director Mohammad-Hassan Talebian said at the ceremony.

Moreover, the pre-history section was opened on the second floor of the National Museum of Iran after 35 years, displaying artifacts in 90 windows, he added.

National Museum of Iran

National Museum of Iran, aging more than 70 years, containing 300,000 museum objects in an area more than 20,000 square meters, is not only the largest museum of History and Archaeology of the country, but ranks as one of the few most prestigious museums of the world in regard to grand volume, diversity and quality of its huge monuments.

In the Iranian museum tradition it is considered Iran’s mother museum, aiming at preserving relics of the past to hand down to the next generations, enhancing better understanding among world peoples and nations, discovering and showing Iranian’s roles in shaping world culture and civilization and trying to enhance public knowledge.

The National Museum of Iran is the combination of two buildings which include the Museum of Ancient Iran, and the white travertine Museum of the Islamic Era.

The Museum of Ancient Iran was designed by French architect Andre Godard in the early 20th century. It has an area of approximately 11000 square meters. Building began in 1935 and was completed within two years by Abbas Ali Memar and Morad Tabrizi. The museum was officially inaugurated in 1937.

The Islamic Era Museum, which was closed for nine years, was reopened recently.

The museum, which extends over an area of 4,000 sq.m., has six salons for displaying ancient relics pertaining to the early Islamic period as well as Seljuk, Ilkhanid, Teymurid, Safavid, and Qajar eras.

Located in the courtyard of the National Museum of Iran, the three-storey building was established in 1996, but it was closed several times for different reasons. However it was reopened following the completion of restoration works.

There are a number of departments in the museum, including Prehistoric Collection, Historic and Loristan Collection, Numismatics Collection, Islamic Collection, Restoration Department, Inscriptions Department, Photo Department, Persian Art Research, World Civilizations Research, Library and Documentation Center, and Public & International Relations.

Prehistoric Collection

This department started its work in 1316, when the museum was inaugurated. This department’s treasury contains more than 10,000 artifacts, well representing developments of prehistoric Iranian cultures from the seventh to the first millennium B.C.; unearthed at sites and places like: Teppeh Sarab , Ali Kosh, Talle Bakun, Cheshmeh Ali, Isma’il Abad, Susa, Hassanlu, Marlik and several other places.

A great number of relics preserved here were unearthed in archeological excavations. Alongside these collections there are other objects purchased from people or donated to the museum. One of the most important donations is the Forughi collection, which entered the Museum in 1359.

Historic and Loristan Collection

This department too started its work in 1316, when the museum was inaugurated. More than 9,000 artifacts comprise this department’s holdings. A great number of artifacts preserved here were unearthed in archeological excavations. Some were donated, discovered accidentally, or confiscated by law enforcing authorities and trusted with this or other museum departments. Including among collections preserved here are:

- Bazargan Collection (17 artifacts from Loristan and 48 from Historic Periods.)
- Mohsen Forughi Collection (101 artifacts from Loristan and 105 from Historic Periods.)
- Stalkh Jan Collection (25 artifacts from Historic period.)

The main activities of this department concentrate on:

creating conditions favorable to preservation and conservation of artifacts, study and research, introducing artifacts and publishing: books, articles, bulletins, catalogs, brochures; preparing scientific records (careful description of artifacts, taking phonographs and compiling bibliographies), helping newly founded museums by providing needed artifacts, completing museum collections, particularly local museums all over Iran, providing researchers with needed information, counseling students in their research work and last but not the least, holding exhibitions, both at home and abroad.

Numismatics Collection

National Museum of Iran, like most world class museums, has a department specifically dedicated to conserving and preserving invaluable Iranian coins and seals; and regarding the unique role played by these artifacts in historic studies of every country’s civilization, this department is of prime importance. Most artifacts preserved here were discovered in archaeological excavations, in addition to some confiscated, donated objects or accidental findings.

In ancient times, before invention and circulation of coins, people traded their goods and secured their needs using barter system, using quadrupeds as exchange unit. In some ancient paintings and reliefs barter scenes are depicted. After discovery of metals man further developed his civilization and used objects made of copper, bronze, gold and silver in the form of rings, bars, square or round pieces, or as knife and axe as means of barter trading.

Islamic Collection

With the spread of Islamic civilization which rested on Islamic philosophy and divine teachings of Quran, time was ripe for formation of Islamic Art taking shape from socio-political and economic conditions in Muslim lands. Striking similarities between patterns of Islamic and Pre-Islamic periods well attest to the new life of the predecessors’ arts in new environments, though full grasping some beauties of the Islamic art with their occult and symbolic meanings necessitates acquaintance with Islamic world view. The advent of Islam in Iran, like other lands formed a new rich Muslim art and culture, based on predecessors’ arts, particularly the Sassanid Empire. Thus we are witnessing the huge collection of Islamic art in National Museum of Iran. Since foundation of the museum by André Godard the fourth floor was dedicated to the Islamic Period. This department began its work with 2400 artifacts in various fields, particularly researching Islamic arts, paving the way for exhibition of invaluable Islamic artifacts on the second floor of Irân-e Bâstân Museum. At this time the western hall of the southern wing, named “Talar-e Ganjineh”, was dedicated to exhibiting gold and silver artifacts, while the eastern hall, named “Talar-e Ardabil”, puts on show china wares from Sheikh Safi Mausoleum.

Restoration Department

Since the early years of establishing Ancient Iran Museum (National Museum of Iran), renovation of historical works had been done according to the requirements.

Today, there are many objects renovated by the artists existing on the museum shelves of which some have been registered as a museum object bearing an explanation: having deduction Renovation, etc. In particular cases, a small part of a renovated unique pottery dish is presented as a registered pottery object. Therefore, a renovator plays an important role in identifying a part of discovered ancient work.

A full field study will explain the history of these renovated museum works in Iran. The artists and renovators of that time may be always be brought happily to mind! Subsequently, the Renovation Department of National Museum of Iran, alongwith other principle departments, was established in 1984. Although limited facilities in the early years, aiming at renovation with a mixture of science and art, the majority of pottery and glass works of the various departments of the museum have been renovated of which most are exhibited in Islamic Era Museum and Ancient Iran Museum. Since 1996, to meet the particular requirements for renovation in various departments of Museum, the Renovation Department has taken measures to achieve comprehensive and fundamental ways for a scientific and longtime keeping and maintenance of these precious works according to their specifications as well as enrichment.

At present, various works kept in National Museum of Iran including pottery, glass, metal, paper, textile and stone remnants are renovated and maintained. Renovation Department of National Museum of Iran is doing continued and widespread activities related to the students of Renovation of historical works in High Education Center of the affiliated organization and also other universities of Iran including Zabol University, Art University of Isfahan, Azad Islamic University of Tehran-center unit, in high diploma, bachelor and master degrees.

Inscriptions Department

Inscription Department of National Museum of Iran was established in August 1998, aiming at gathering, maintenance and renovation, issuing identity certificate, duplicating and reading the scripts which had not been red yet. The majority of the discovered brick and clay inscriptions in Susa and Takht-e-Jamshid and also clay inscriptions of Takht-e- Jamshid treasury and ramparts are kept in this department, to which preliminary identity certificate have been issued and some have been read and are printable.

Photo Department

Photography department of National Museum of Iran, as other departments of the Museum, started its activities since the early years of the establishment of Museum. In this regard, photograph and picture is registering documents of all the remnants and artworks which are considered as the identity of culture, civilization and art of Iran.

In National Museum of Iran, to supply an identity certificate for any object, first it’s picture is taken which indicates the size, form, total volume, texture and sex of the object, therefore, it requires to take a technical and accurate photography of the considered object. The photographers, who have done services in National Museum of Iran, try their best to take picture of the object in a particular style regarding their sensitivities and specifications in order to meet the researchers’ needs. Transmitting data by pictures is one of the various activities of this Department in Iran, societies and institutes located at other countries. Joining the registration in fairs, seminars, lectures, etc to present history and culture of Iran is another activity of this Department.

Now, in the course of development of communications of Cultural Heritage Organization, Crafts and Tourism, picture archive of this department welcomes to do services for universities, organizations, institutes and researcher of Iran in order, in communication era when requires cultural and artistic researches, to have insignificant share in artistic business.

Persian Art Research

Iran, since long time ago, has been the cradle of science and art which led to appearance of various artistic schools in the history. This indicates that Iranians own creativity and value of Art. Therefore, to present this artistic school, even beyond the geographical borders, the history of Iran Art Department is under progress in National Museum of Iran.

The major goals of this research department include as follows:

- Presenting types of arts and crafts with their history
- Presenting the historic appearance and the reasons of variety of different artistic schools in Iran
- Explaining the reasons of dehiscence and degeneration of various artistic schools in Iran
- Indicating artistic specifications of each historic era
- Presenting and exhibiting works of various significant artistic styles in Iran
- Expressing artistic and cultural effects of various artistic schools on other artistic schools and on reverse.

World Civilizations Research

Iran, since long time ago, has been considered as a bridge between East and West due to its geographical specifications and the importance of strategy.

Therefore, Iran has welcomed to the various tribes, of whom some were settled in Iran. In addition, cultures of tribes and nations have effects on exchanged cultural products due to cultural and commercial relations.

Therefore, most of the remnants discovered in the geographical borders and also outside of Iran indicate the cultural and artistic effects on various tribes. At present, the Research Section of History of Nations’ Civilizations Department is under progress in National Museum of Iran in order to present these cultural effects on Iran and other civilizations.

The major objectives of this department include as below:

- Review on the history of cultural and commercial relations between Iranians and other tribes including Mesopotamia, Indian Subcontinent, China, Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc.
- Review on shaping various artistic styles in the world.
- Indicating the role of Iran civilization in enhancing and glorying world civilization
- Presenting artistic specifications of world civilizations through the history
- Research on the history of nations’ civilizations
- Human beings relationships through the artistic connections

Library and Documentation Center

The execution of building of Ancient Iran Museum was started in 1927, in where a place was determined as archeology Library.

After inaugurating the museum in 1937, the Library and Documentation Center was established aiming at meeting research requirements of the personnel of the museum and Archeological Office through preparing 1000 Persian and Latin books which were borrowed form Maaref Library.

This library was directed by Andrew Gedar, the designer and architecture of Museum. Since 1946, The library was directed by the various Iranian managers, until General Office of Archeology was changed to Archeology Center of Iran in 1972-1973.

In 1981, while starting new activities of Ancient Iran Museum, its library was also revived and directed by the present manager alongwith two persons in charge under supervision of two departments upto Nov.1987. By establishing Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran and changing the name of Ancient Iran Museum to National Museum of Iran, this library was brought under inspection of the Museum. Various scientific and cultural personalities of the country have had great role in developing and completing of this library such as Ali Asghar Hekmat, Ali Farahmandi, Mahdi Bahrami, Mohammad Taghi Mostafavi and Salma Moghaddam.

This Library, through 63 years activities, have been the place for studying and visiting majority of cultural and political personalities of Iran and the world, where should be considered as a cultural and scientific point.

Public & International Relations

This section was established in 2001 as an independent department in National Museum of Iran to offer updated information about scientific and research activities of museum in the press and other publications, coordinating local and foreign exhibitions and cooperation with researchers and foreign Iranologists.

Due to development of foreign fairs, international relations activities were included to public relations duties.

The major activities related to public and international relations are as bellows:

- Cooperation with various departments of museum for disposing local and foreign exhibitions
- Collaboration with news media & press for news coverage and taking picture
- Cooperation with tourists to visit easily National Museum of Iran
- Reporting the activities of various departments of museum to new agencies and press
- Arranging Archives for books and published catalogues by National Museum of Iran
- Replying to recommendations and criticizes of the visitors as well as evaluating opinions
- Preparing monthly and annual invoices of Museum
- Supervision on the process of publishing written works of Museum

Link For Further Reading:

*Iran Celebrates International Museum Day

*The Reza Abbasi Museum and School

*Golestan Palace

*Photo Credit: NetBaran.Com, Wikipedia, Mehr News, Fars News

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