Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Two German museums postpone Iran exhibitions due to political tensions

The cultural institutions were unable to secure insurance on the artefact loans

State Museum of Baden, also known as Badisches Landesmuseum, is one of two German museums to postpone an exhibition being planned in collaboration with Iran. Getty
State Museum of Baden, also known as Badisches Landesmuseum, is one of two German museums to postpone an exhibition being planned in collaboration with Iran. Getty

Two museums in Germany have indefinitely postponed exhibitions that were planned in cooperation with Iranian institutions, as insurers refused to cover artefacts on loan due to heightened political tensions between Iran and the West, The Art Newspaper reported on Friday.

An exhibition titled Death in Salt. An Archaeological Investigation in Persia was due to take place at the Frankfurt’s Archaeological Museum in collaboration with Tehran’s National Museum of Iran, the Zanjan Saltmen Museum in Zanjan, Iran, and the German Mining Museum in Bochum. The exhibit, which the museum has been preparing for two years, was set to focus on the archaeological site at an Iranian salt mine in Chehrabad. It was to showcase salt-preserved mummies, textiles and tools, found at the location, which date back more than 2,000 years.

“The conditions were already difficult last year,” museum director Wolfgang David told the publication. “But at the beginning of this year, our German transport company cancelled and the insurance company withdrew its offer. Our Iranian colleagues are deeply disappointed.”

There are hopes the exhibition will still go ahead at the German Mining Museum later this year.

Elsewhere, at the State Museum of Baden, also known as the Badisches Landesmuseum, in Karlsruhe, a show titled The Persians was scheduled to open on Saturday, October 10, featuring 200 loans from Iranian museums.

We hope for peace and reason so that the voice of culture can be heard further

Eckart Kohne, director, Badisches Landesmuseum

It was to highlight the Achaemenid Empire, the ancient civilisation that existed from 550 to 330 BC, as well as life in Iranian royal courts. “We have halted the project, but if conditions change and there is some stability in the region, we will renew our plans,” said director Eckart Kohne.

This comes after a statement from Kohne in German appeared on Badisches Landesmuseum’s Instagram account about cultural collaboration with Iran. “We know what destruction means,” he began, recounting when the building in which the museum is housed was burned down in 1944. “We look forward to continuing to work with colleagues from the Iranian National Museum, with whom we are preparing the exchange of exhibition projects in the fall of this year … We appeal to all political actors in the West and East to respect and promote this joint work. We hope for peace and reason so that the voice of culture can be heard further.”

Tensions between Iran and the West rose after the killing of the Iranian commander Qassem Suleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad on Friday, January 3.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged parties to respect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The country’s largest airline, Lufthansa, cancelled all flights to Iran until the end of March after a Ukraine International Airlines plane was shot down shortly after take-off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on Wednesday, January 8. Iranian officials admitted three days after the incident that its military was responsible for "unintentionally' downing the plane, which killed all 176 people on board.

Updated: January 25, 2020 04:48 PM

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