Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is a surprising haven of creativity in the middle of Iran
In a country where artistic expression is often suppressed and nearly always monitored carefully by the government, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in the heart of Iran is a surprising oasis of creative expression and a celebration of the individuality and storytelling that art represents.
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (or Tmoca) features over 3,000 works by some of the world’s most famous artists. For instance, classic artists Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse are on display beside Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
The museum is home to some of the most valuable collections of modern Western masterpieces outside Europe and North America.
Home to western masterpieces, from Picasso to Warhol
While geo-politics impact art on display in Iran, there is always something interesting and inspiring at the museum.
Most recently, the museum featured an exhibition of works by Picasso and several other artists. The display, held in concert with a renovation of the museum facilities, indicates Iran’s increasing willingness to share its impressive storehouse of priceless art with foreign researchers and the global art community.
Organized by Dutch architect and curator Mattijs Visser, the show was an exercise in “contemporary archaeology.” Subsequently, he spent time sorting through the vast collection of art and creating a digital catalog to capture and document each piece.
In the course of Visser’s research, he discovered many forgotten works that he says no one in the western world had ever seen. Some of his most exciting discoveries included 40 pieces by Picasso and a drawing by the French artist and writer Marcel Duchamp.
While Visser and his team lauded each new discovery, the exhibition aimed to showcase art of many walks.
Visser said in an interview about the show, “I don’t want to be pretentious and focus on big names. Therefore, I want to mix up everything so that people can really see something which they have never seen before.”
The museum’s design celebrates Iranian architecture
The museum building itself is a form of art, inspired by a combination of traditional Iranian design and modern architecture. Designed by famed Iranian architect Kamran Diba, the style is a nod to Iran’s wind towers. These serve as a practical and beautiful design element in structures all over the nation.
Standing three floors high, the museum is a permanent exhibition site for Iran’s contemporary art collection. For example, inside the museum, visitors will find nine separate galleries. Three focus on international artists from the permanent collection, and feature works by Claude Monet, van Gogh, Picasso, Andy Warhol, René Magritte, and more. In addition, the remaining six galleries feature rotating exhibitions that change throughout the year.
The Tehran Contemporary Museum of Art bridge political divides through our common creative humanity. Consequently, it remains a jewel in the Persian crown of global art history and preservation.