Over 50 items from the Louvre to be displayed in Tehran for the first time

Among the items shipped over by cargo plane were a 2,400-year-old Egyptian sphinx, a bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and drawings by Rembrandt and Delacroix.

art and culture Updated: Mar 06, 2018 14:15 IST
Press Trust of India, Tehran
Louvre,Tehran,Iran
An Iranian woman looks at Royal Sphinx sculpture during the inauguration of an exhibition called The Louvre in Tehran.(AP)

Journalists flooded Iran’s National Museum today for the arrival of more than 50 artworks from the Louvre -- the first major show by a Western museum in the country’s history. The show reflects France’s determined use of cultural diplomacy as it seeks to rebuild traditional ties with Iran, even as their officials hold tense talks over political and security issues.

An Iranian woman takes a picture of a statue titled Funerary Genius in Tehran, Iran. (AP)

The doors were unsealed for journalists at the National Museum in central Tehran, which is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary, a day ahead of the public opening. Among the items shipped over by cargo plane were a 2,400-year-old Egyptian sphinx, a bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and drawings by Rembrandt and Delacroix.

“Some were definitely easier to transport than others,” said Judith Henon, one of the experts sent by the Louvre. “Our Iranian partners really liked the sphinx, but it weighs close to a tonne and was extremely complicated to put in place.” The show marks the culmination of two years of work since a cultural exchange agreement was signed during a visit by President Hassan Rouhani to Paris in January 2016.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, left, looks at a statue titled, The Virgin and Child. (AP)

“Relations between France and Iran are old and profound because France was a pioneer of archaeological exploration here,” Jean-Luc Martinez, president of the Louvre, told AFP. “This completely unprecedented exhibition... allows us to make the link between this glorious moment and relations that date back to the 19th century.”

France has deep cultural ties with pre-revolutionary Iran, and the National Museum itself was built by a Frenchman, Andre Godard, in 1938. While Britain and Russia battled for political influence in 19th century Persia, it was the French who led the way in archaeological affairs.

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First Published: Mar 06, 2018 14:15 IST