Two months ago the Bundeskunsthalle closed its doors to a big and wonderfully curated exhibition about Iran: Ancient Cultures Between Water And Desert. The exhibition was organized with cooperation of Iran’s National Museum and Cultural Heritage Organization in Tehran.
Everybody kept wondering how such an incredible and vast selection of most important treasures got sent over to Bonn for the show. This was indeed exceptional. For me it just shows how greatly Iranians are proud of their heritage and like people around the world to actually now about it and in response how trustworthy German institutions are.
The focus of this exhibition was to help understand via archaeological artifacts and explanatory panels and videos what cultured pre-ancient civilizations persisted in the regions of todays Iran. They even built a perfect Persian Garden on the outside premises with an eye for details.
I was very glad that the subject of water was incorporated as the information provided proofed that the prosperous longevity of Middle East civilizations relies heavily on a smart use of water supplies. A very urgent topic as Iran and the whole Middle East face an endangering water crisis.
I was going to buy the book made specifically for this exhibition. I heard it is very good but the publication is unfortunately sold out and I don’t think it will ever come back. Maybe I will be lucky some day to score it used but for now I decided on a blog post for a visual diary on my visit.
Still the museum provides a lot of information including video material, an app and very good high res images. Here is the link. Excuse the image quality on my pictures though, lighting was very moody and yellow to draw attention to the artifacts. I am nonetheless very happy as it is not very common for German museums to allow photographing at all.
As usual I liked Bundeskunsthalle’s quality conceptualization. The viewer gets a little bit guided but it is not forced. For anyone wishing for more info material there were screens with documentaries or one could have borrowed the audio guide for free at the front desk. I saw frequent use by all ages of these devices. Curators were also keen to represent everything aesthetically pleasing and understandable.
Pre-ancient Iranian civilizations are known for their use of seals. Sometimes of semi-precious stones. Mostly made of clay though so to be easily implantable with symbols or later writings. I loved how the curators created wall murals with those seal symbols. Beautiful abstract art works which allow you to see the imprinted seal shapes better than in the teeny tiny exhibition specimens.
Hope you could catch a glimpse and I could animate you for a visit to Bundeskunsthalle. They always have world-class exhibitions going on. And the architecture is nice, too.