Iran News ...


2/3/03

Iran denounces world museums balk at returning old artifacts

Iran's National Museum denounced a statement, signed by a group of prominent world museums that artifacts of universal importance should not be repatriated, ADJOUR, an Iranian pro cultural heritage NGO, announced.

"Those countries which have not a great past civilization, relying on their power, have transferred some of the cultural properties and old artifacts of countries with ancient civilizations to their museums," Mohammad Reza Karegar, director of Iran's National Museum told ADJOUR.

Karegar added, "But we continue our initiatives to get our properties back."

"In case of returning these objects, the museums which signed the statement would become empty and that could be one reason why they say the museums are a better place for keeping the ancient artifacts, Karegar said."

The statement signed by 18 prominent world museums such as Louvre Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago on December 11, 2002, said," Over time, objects so acquired-whether by purchase, gift, or partage-have become part of the museums that have cared for them, and by extension part of the heritage of the nations which house them."

Kargar added, "Artifacts belonging to Persepolis could be better presented at Persepolis and so are the artifacts belonging to pyramids in Egypt."

As Karegar says, "Some artifacts gathered by excavations in Persepolis and Susa which have been brought abroad are of great importance, since the lack of these material has made the restoration tasks very difficult."

The Code of Hamurabi, king of Babylonia, a bas-relief which was first discovered in the winter of 1901-1902 by a French expedition headed by M. de Morgan in Susa, in southern Iran, is one of the artifacts that should be returned to Iran. The bas-relief is now kept in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Cyrus declaration, written by the Achaemenid king Cyrus the great, which is considered as the first declaration of human rights, is another Iranian invaluable inscription which is to be returned to Iran.

The declaration inscribed on a clay cylinder in cuneiform was discovered in 1879 by Hormoz Rasam in Babol and now is held in The British Museum.


Additional information:

- Association of Advocate Journalists for Cultural Heritage ("ADJOUR", an Iranian NGO, in action since last year) is a non-governmental organization which aims at persuading the public opinion in a way to be more conscious about cultural issues. To accomplish these, goals, ADJOUR has established a news network for an in-depth coverage of cultural issues around the globe and inside Iran.

- Iran National Museum: (9821) 670 20 61

- The text of the statement and the names of 18 museums:

Declaration on the importance and value of universal museums

The international museum community shares the conviction that illegal traffic in archaeological, artistic, and ethnic objects must be firmly discouraged. We should, however, recognize that objects acquired in earlier times must be viewed in the light of different sensitivities and values, reflective of that earlier era. The objects and monumental works that were installed decades and even centuries ago in museums throughout Europe and America were acquired under conditions that are not comparable with current ones.

Over time, objects so acquired-whether by purchase, gift, or partage-have become part of the museums that have cared for them, and by extension part of the heritage of the nations which house them. Today we are especially sensitive to the subject of a work's original context, but we should not lose sight of the fact that museums too provide a valid and valuable context for objects that were long ago displaced from their original source. The universal admiration for ancient civilizations would not be so deeply established today were it not for the influence exercised by the artifacts of these cultures, widely available to an international public in major museums. Indeed, the sculpture of classical Greece, to take but one example, is an excellent illustration of this point and of the importance of public collecting. The centuries-long history of appreciation of Greek art began in antiquity, was renewed in Renaissance Italy, and subsequently spread through the rest of Europe and to the Americas. Its accession into the collections of public museums throughout the world marked the significance of Greek sculpture for mankind as a whole and its enduring value for the contemporary world. Moreover, the distinctly Greek aesthetic of these works appears all the more strongly as the result of their being seen and studied in direct proximity to products of other great civilizations.

Calls to repatriate objects that have belonged to museum collections for many years have become an important issue for museums. Although each case has to be judged individually, we should acknowledge that museums serve not just the citizens of one nation but the people of every nation. Museums are agents in the development of culture, whose mission is to foster knowledge by a continuous process of reinterpretation. Each object contributes to that process. To narrow the focus of museums whose collections are diverse and multifaceted would therefore be a disservice to all visitors.

Signed by the Directors of:

The Art Institute of Chicago

Bavarian State Museum, Munich (Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek)

State Museums, Berlin

Cleveland Museum of Art

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Louvre Museum, Paris

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Prado Museum, Madrid

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York


Contact: Barmak Bahremand, Foreign Desk Editor
Iran, Tehran - Association of Advocate Journalists for Cultural Heritage
Telephone: (9821) 224 3126-27 adjour@gmx.at

... Payvand News - 2/3/03 ... --



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