Iran’s historical photo archive in jeopardy

July 26, 2009 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- Lack of equipment is threatening Iran’s historical photo archive, which is one of the most important in the world.

A total of 9438 negatives and 1040 albums containing over 40,000 photos are preserved at the archive located at Tehran’s Golestan Museum Palace, the Persian service of CHN reported on Saturday.
The decay of the paper used to wrap the negatives has spoiled many photos, some of which were taken during the Qajar era. The negatives can never be restored.
The coverings of the negatives, which are made of ordinary paper, have not been replaced since 1979.
Several months ago, Golestan Museum Palace officials asked the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) to allocate 1.6 billion rials (about $160,000) to equip the archive, said an informed source who requested anonymity.
Only 440 million rials (about $44,000) were earmarked by the CHTHO to outfit the archive, but this sum has not been given to the palace yet, he added.
Most of the artifacts kept at the archive were originally collected on the orders of Qajar king Nasser ad-Din Shah (1831–1896).
The advent of photographic art occurred in Iran about five years after its invention in 1839 during the last years of Qajar king Mohammad Shah’s reign.
Afterwards, Nasser ad-Din Shah showed great interest in photography and sent several groups of talented students from Dar-ul-Fonun, the Iranian polytechnic established in 1851, to European academies to learn the art.
Photo: Nasser ad-Din Shah sitting in front of the Peacock Throne at the Mirror Hall of the Golestan Palace