If you want to know about a country, its history, its people, its rich traditions and culture, then what should you do? The best thing will, of course, be to explore one of the prominent museums whenever you visit that particular country. Iran, also known as Persia in yesteryears, is a country with thousands of years of history behind it. A visit to this country will offer a great insight into its glorious ancient past.
Let us embark on a virtual tour to Tehran, the capital city of Iran, and explore the National Museum of Iran. Also known as the Archeological Museum, it was founded in 1937. The National Museum of Iran is renowned world over as Iran’s mother museum and is among the world’s most prestigious museums. With more than 70-year-old history, it is the largest museum of History and Archeology in the country spanning in a huge 20,000 sq m area.
The National Museum of Iran is presently home to a vast collection of 300,000 artifacts and manuscripts. It is among the first museums to be constructed during the Qajar period for preserving Nadir Shah’s Indian treasure. The museum is now being administered and operated under the Ministry of Education.
The main objectives of establishing the museum is preserving relics of the past and handing these down to future generations, enhancing people’s knowledge, prominently showcasing the country’s role in shaping world civilization and culture, and promote better understanding among people of different parts of the world.
The museum has a huge collection of ancient Persian antiquities including coins, books, metal objects, pottery vessels and more. It is currently housed in two buildings. The Building No. 1 is devoted to the pre-Islamic collection, while Building No. 2 is dedicated to post-Islamic artifacts. Famous French architect Andre Goddard designed the museum building in the early 20th century. The main entrance of Building No. 1 has been exquisitely designed styled on Persia’s Sassanid vaults, especially the Diwan of Clesiphon. Building No. 1 has three halls where artifacts from different ages or era are preserved. These artifacts belong to different periods including Sassanid Age, Parthian Age, Seleucid Age, Achaemenid Age, Median Age, Iran Ages I-III, early and late Bronze Ages, Chalcolothic Age, Neolithic Age, and lower, middle and upper Paleolithic Ages.
The museum’s oldest artifacts collections are procured from Ganj Par and Kashaf Rud sites dating back to Lower Paleolithic Age. Among other ancient artifacts at the museum include 9,000-year-old animal and human figurines procured from Teppe Sarab in Kermanshah Province.
The Building No. 2, which is exclusively devoted to the post-Islamic artifacts, also has three floors. The collections being prominently displayed here includes astrolabes, artworks, texts, textiles, pieces of pottery, and adobe calligraphy tracing 1400 years of Iran’s Islamic history.
Let us have a glimpse into the various departments of the National Museum of Iran. These include Prehistoric Collection, Historic and Loristan Collection, Numismatics Collection, Islamic Collection, Restoration Department, Inscriptions Department, Photo Department, and Library and Documentation Center.
The Prehistoric Collection department started functioning after the National Museum of Iran’s inauguration in 1937. More than 10,000 artifacts presently form the part of museum’s prehistoric collection. These artifacts include those from prehistoric Iranian cultures from the 7th to the first millennium B.C. These artifacts have been procured from places and sites such as Marlik, Hassanlu, Susa, Isma’il Abad, Cheshmeh Ali, Talle Bakun, Ali Kosh, Tepeh Sarab and many other places.
Historic and Loristan Collection
The Historic and Loristan Collection department has been functional ever since the opening of the museum in 1937. The collection of this department comprises of more than 9,000 artifacts. Most of the artifacts preserved here have been excavated from archaeological sites. Apart from conservation and preservation of artifacts, the department also promotes study and research, publishing brochures, catalogs, bulletins, articles and books, preparing scientific records, and holding exhibitions at home and foreign countries.
Just like other world class museums, the National Museum of Iran also has a department exclusively devoted to preserving and conserving rare Iranian seals and coins. Most of the artifacts here have been procured from archaeological sites. The department also has impressive collection of artifacts used in the barter trade. These include objects made from silver, gold, bronze and copper in the form of axe, knife, square, bars and rings.
The National Museum of Iran has a huge collection of Islamic art dedicated to the Islamic Period, particularly the Sassanid Empire. More than 10,000 artifacts and manuscripts are presently housed in the department. The museum’s Islamic Collection department is also considered among the most important research centers on Islamic Art. The department also offers counseling and expert advice to the researchers and students interested in undertaking research work in the various fields of Islamic Arts. Further, the department also undertakes collaborative projects in association with educational and academic centers in the country as well as abroad.