Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World
promising to loan the Iranian artefacts to Iran
Iran has cut ties with the French institution
(CAIS) -- Accusation made by Iran’s Cultural Heritage,
Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) that the Louvre reneging
on a promise to send part of its collection of ancient Iranian artefacts to an to
the National Museum of Iran (NMI) for a major exhibition, are strongly denied by
the Paris museum, and claimed that the agreement was never finalised.
ICHHTO severed links with the
Louvre last month when Hamid Baqaee the director of the organisation issued an
statement: “this organisation, as of today [early April] will cease its
co-operation with the Louvre for violating its commitment.”
Baqaee referred to a 2004 cultural co-operation agreement signed between the
Louvre and ICHHTO, which according to a Louvre spokesman, involved “a number
of possible initiatives including research and training programmes along with
[joint] exhibitions in Paris and Tehran”.
But the contract to host a show in Iran never materialised, said the Louvre
spokesman, adding: “The exhibitions to be held in both capital cities centred
around the subsequent signing of separate agreements, and no specific commitment
had been made to organise an exhibition in Tehran.”
The spokesman acknowledged, however, some partnership successes such as “The
Song of the World: Art of Safavid Iran, 1501-1736” show held at the French
institution in late 2007, which was backed by ICHHTO. Iranian representatives
also attended research seminars held in Paris while the Louvre screened a documentary
on the Royal Mosque (Masjed-e Shah) at Esfahan.
Baqaee is adamant nonetheless that the Louvre has reneged on the deal. “Based
on our  agreement, this museum should have sent us some artefacts in order
to set up an exhibition here but for unknown reasons they have not,” he
reportedly said. The agreement officially ends in June; discussions to renew it
are not in the pipeline, says the Louvre.
It seems the
Louvre's reluctancy in honouring the agreement in loaning the artefacts could be
due to the fear of their confiscation, as large number of the Louvre's Iranian
collection were obtained illegally.
Most likely, the
Louvre has the same agreement as the British Museum had with Iranians in loaning
the Cyrus Cylinder, which was loaned to the National Museum of Iran in
September 2010 and after seven months of exhibition was retuned to London
earlier last week. Although the Cyrus Cylinder is an Iranian artefact, since it
was discovered in what is today known as Iraq, Iran therefore, has no legal
right to lay any claim on the artefact, which is different to Paris's Iranian
In the course of
the last century, the foreign missions were exceptionally active, expanding
their plundering of Iran. The last known batch of Iranian artefacts consisted of
500 pieces of Lorestan Bronze purchased by the Louvre was taken out of Iran by
Jacques Coiffard, the former French Ambassador to Tehran.
ICHHTO has assembled a team of lawyers and experts to repatriate the stolen
Iranian loot taken out of Iran since early 19h century.
From/Source: The Art Newspaper
and edited by CAIS [*]
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British Institute of Persian Studies