Iran rejects Louvre Museum claims
Iran’s National Museum has rejected claims made by France’s Louvre Museum about the lack of an agreement on holding exhibitions in Tehran and Paris.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the National Museum of Iran said that a cultural agreement was signed between Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and the Louvre Museum on October 31, 2004, under which the two museums were supposed to hold exhibitions in the Iranian and French capitals.
The agreement, which is in English, Persian and French, has clearly stated that the two museums can exchange experts and cooperate in research and educational activities, IRNA reported.
According to the third article of the agreement, the Iranian and French museums agreed to hold exhibitions in Tehran and Paris.
Iran kept its promise and held two exhibitions at the Louvre, one showcasing objects from the Safavid era and the other introducing the ancient Persian Civilization.
The French side, however, has not shown any commitment to the promises it made.
The statement also says that the agreement between the two museums expires at the end of June this year and that the Iranian side will no longer cooperate with the Louvre Museum.
Iran announced earlier in April that it had severed all ties with the Louvre Museum because the French art center had not shown any commitment to the promises it made.
Head of ICHTO Hamid Baqaei had warned Louvre officials in January that Iran would only wait until the beginning of the Persian New Year (March 21, 2011) for them to give an exact date for their exhibition in Iran and the artifacts they would send to the country.
This is not the first time that Iran has encountered such a problem with international museums.
In February 2010, Tehran severed ties with the British Museum as it had not sent the Cyrus Cylinder for an exhibition in Iran as promised.
In April 2010, the ICHTO demanded USD 300,000 in compensation for the delay by the British Museum.
The Achaemenid relic was finally displayed at the National Museum of Iran last September after being escorted by a delegation headed by Keeper of the Middle East collections of the British Museum John Curtis to the exhibition site where it was displayed for the first time in 40 years.
The Cyrus Cylinder was initially sent to Iran for a four-month exhibition ending on January 10, 2011, but the event was extended until the end of Nowruz (Persian New Year) holidays.
Iran also won in appeals court concerning a collection of Persepolis tablets which was loaned to Chicago University to be studied in 1937.
Although some of the tablets have been returned to Iran, the dispute broke out when an American Federal Judge ordered the tablets to be confiscated and auctioned in order to compensate the Israeli victims of the 1997 al-Quds (Jerusalem) bombing.
A US federal appeals court overturned the lower court order in March 2011, recognizing the 2,500-year-old relics as part of Iran’s cultural heritage.
The 41-page document at the seventh appeals court admitted that the former order was “seriously flawed.”
The tablets, which were discovered by the archeology team of the University of Chicago in 1933, bear cuneiform inscriptions recording administrative details of the Persian Empire from about 500 BCE.
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