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Iran: Tehran's national museum severs ties with the Louvre

last update: April 27, 16:28

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Tehran, 27 April - (AKI) - The National Museum of Iran will no longer cooperate with the Louvre Museum of France, it said in a statement said on Wednesday cited by official Iranian news agency Irna.

"The cultural agreement on cooperation between the two sides expires at the end of June, 2011 and the Iranian side will no longer cooperate with the Louvre Museum of France," read the statement.

It said the move followed a decision by French authorities not to send for exhibition in Tehran several items from the Louvres' collections the although Tehran has twice loaned items to Paris for exhibits as agreed under a 2004 accord.

The statement said that a cultural agreement has been signed between the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization and the Louvre Museum on October 31, 2004, under which Paris should loan items to Tehran for exhibitions.

As long ago as January, the Iranian culture body's chief, Hamid Baghai, warned that the Louvre cultural ties with France would be cut if the Paris museum failed to set up an exhibition of Persian artefacts in Iran as agreed.

Baghai gave the Louvre until the end of March to inform Tehran which items they intended to loan the national museum, and it is not the first time he has taken on a world-renowned museum.

In February 2010, Baghai said Tehran had severed ties with the British Museum in London in protest at repeated delays in lending Iran the world-famous Cyrus Cylinder, a 2,600-year old clay artefact bearing a cuneiform inscription.

The cylinder has been described as the first human rights charter, as it advocates the return of deported peoples to their homelands and freedom of expression throughout the Persian empire.

The British Museum loaned Iran the Cyrus Cylinder in September 2010, bringing to an end the row over the ancient terracotta treasure (photo) in which Tehran threatened to end all cultural cooperation with Britain.

Museums in Europe, the United States and Russia hold many Persian artefacts dating back thousands of years.

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