British Museum ready to loan more artifacts to Iran

April 17, 2011 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- British Museum Director Neil MacGregor has announced readiness to loan world famous artifacts to the National Museum of Iran (NMI).

The British Museum loaned the Cyrus Cylinder to the National Museum of Iran in September 2010 for several months for a showcase that was brought to an end on Saturday.
Presidential Office Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaii, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) Director Hamidreza Baqaii, NMI curator Azadeh Ardakani, curator of BM Department of the Middle East John Curtis and MacGregor took part in the closing ceremony of the exhibit.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, MacGregor said that it would be fascinating to hold exhibitions of other civilizations including China, Greece and Mexico with the collaboration of the National Museum of Iran.
He also expressed hope that the two museums would expand cultural relations.
MacGregor also said that both museums proved that their preserved artifacts belong to everyone adding that cultural relations are of high importance in the complex world of today.
“Today, it is sad to see the Cyrus Cylinder departing from its homeland, but it should travel around the world, providing the opportunity for all nations to see it,” Presidential Office Chief of Staff Rahim-Mashaii said during the ceremony.
“The Cyrus Cylinder teaches us to exercise freedom … Today is a great day for Iranians and all the nations of the world. From this moment on, we will be waiting in the country until once again the Achaemenid clay tablets are put on display at the National Museum of Iran,” he added.
Afterward, Rahim-Mashaii awarded an Achaemenid-designed coin to MacGregor. In addition, John Curtis presented a replica of the Cyrus Cylinder to National Museum of Iran curator Ardakani.
Iran’s 300 Achaemenid clay tablets loaned to the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute have been seized in a ruling by a U.S. court in 2003.
Considered the world’s first declaration of human rights, the Cyrus Cylinder is a document issued by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the form of a clay cylinder inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform script.
Over 200,000 people visited the Cyrus Cylinder exhibit. The cylinder was created following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian king Nabonidus and replaced him as ruler, ending the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
Photo: British Museum Director Neil MacGregor (L) gives a replica of the Cyrus cylinder to National Museum of Iran (NMI) curator Azadeh Ardakani (R) during the closing ceremony of the exhibit of the original version of the artifact at NMI on April 16, 2011. (ISNA/Mona Hubefekr)