Tehran Collection Comes to Berlin

BERLIN -- Works of art by many of the greats of 20th-century art collected just before Iran's revolution are being lent by the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art along with works by Iranian artists for a show here next year.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network have waited for years to glimpse this hidden collection.

The announcement last week by the State Museums Berlin and the Prussian Cultural Foundation, follows a deal struck in Tehran assisted by the German foreign minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier, who said in a statement that the exhibition "will help to complete our picture of Iran and allow Iran to improve access to our culture".

Shiva Balaghi, a visiting scholar at Brown University, Rhode Island, says: "That a succession of Iranian museum curators and administrators have worked to put together the collection and maintain it over decades is a testament to a fundamental respect for the arts. That this collection now serves as a foundation for greater collaboration between Iranian art institutions and those abroad is another indication of art's ability to create alternative contexts for mutual understanding and appreciation."

It is still to be announced which works from the Tehran museum's collection will be shown for three months in Berlin, but they could include ones by Picasso, Pollock, Francis Bacon and Monet, which were acquired in the 1970s.

Opening the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in 1977 was a grand project close to the heart of the late Shah's wife, Farah Pahlavi Shahbanu.

When hard-line conservatives gained power the works were kept in store. But in the past few years, many of the pieces have been shown in exhibitions in Tehran. It is considered the best collection of 20th-century American and European art outside the West.

While a few works have been lent in the past, this planned large-scale loan will be the first since the improvement of relations between Iran, Europe and the US after the nuclear deal was reached this summer.

The Tehran Miseum of Contemporary Art was designed by Iranian architect Kamran Diba, who employed elements from traditional Persian architecture. It was built adjacent to Laleh Park, Tehran, and was inaugurated in 1977.

The building itself can be regarded as an example of contemporary art. Most of the museum area is located underground.

It is considered to have the most valuable collection of Western modern art outside Europe and the United States, a collection largely assembled by founding curators David Galloway and Donna Stein under the patronage of Farah Pahlavi.

It is said that there is approximately $5 billion worth of modern art held at the museum. The museum hosts a revolving program of exhibitions and occasionally organizes exhibitions by local artists.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers a brief tour of the incredible holdings within the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGQGDQnvD6Y&sns=em