Behind-the-scenes Story of Museums: Culture, politics and Architecture in Iran (1960 – 2020)

Cultural policies provide a means for shaping and disseminating a particular vision of culture and identity, aligned with state ideologies. As a part of cultural policies, museums are used as mediums supporting political narratives and promoting a desired identity by choosing what to be remembered and what to be forgotten. Since museums respond to cultural policies of the state and represent official discourses of memory and heritage, they are unique spaces for understanding political-cultural shifts in societies. Therefore, by focusing on the particular case of museums in Iran before and after the revolution of 1979, this study seeks to understand how museums were established and then changed during significant historical, cultural and ideological shifts.

The foundation of museums was among the many strategies the Pahlavi state (1925 – 1979) in Iran employed to strengthen the monarchy and maintain power through cultural policy. Several museums were founded in the 1960s and specifically in the 1970s during which the increase in oil price and the substantial growth in Iran’s oil revenue paved the way for providing the funds for the implementation of such cultural plans. However, after the Revolution in 1979, following the actions of the new government to remove the symbols and memories left by the former state, some of the museums underwent several transformations to continue their life through disseminating new ideologies. The examination of these institutions as bridges between pre and post revolution will enrich the understanding of museums as dynamic entities that reflect and respond to transformations in societies.

Marziyeh Bazyar M.Sc. Beheshti University, Iran
since 2024
Gerda Henkel Stiftung PhD Scholarship