Tehran | Art and Culture

The visual arts in Tehran range from exquisitely preserved  masterpieces of the  early Islamic era to enormous freshly painted murals on the sides of buildings and everything in between.

Seljuk Period Pottery Vessel from the 13th Century

I could have spent days immersed in the masterpieces at The National Museum of the Islamic Era, which just reopened in August 2015 after a nine-year hiatus. A beautiful and serene museum,  its collection includes ceramics, stucco work, calligraphy, and illustrated manuscripts.

11th Century Stucco Mihrab with Kufic Inscriptions

Photos don’t begin to do justice but will have to suffice. The astrolabe below was made by Muhammad ibn-e Hamed al-Isfahan in 1162 AD and is one of four by him that survive.

Astrolabe, 12th Century, Iran

My friends and I chatted with many students who were enjoying the newly reopened museum – most of whom wanted their picture taken with us.


Across the city and the centuries, Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art  in Laleh Park houses an outstanding collection of works by Iranian and Western artists.  But don’t just take my word for it, read what Bloomberg.Com has to say:  Iran has been Hiding One of the World’s Great Collections of Modern Art.

My personal favorite was the Rothko pictured below. Be sure to notice the young woman’s chartreuse shoes that complement the middle section.

Rothko with Girls
Mark Rothko’s No. 2 (Yellow Center) 1954

A brief walk leads to the Prayer Room (Namraz Kaneh), designed by TMOCA’s architect Kamran Diba.  This sculptural structure is an elegant combination of form and function.

Kamran Diba’s Prayer Room in Laleh Park

Also in Laleh Park, the Carpet Museum of Iran showcases one of Iran’s best-known exports.  The artistry is truly impressive and the works on display illustrate the wide variety of styles.

Museum of Cinema Tehran new
Cinema Museum of Iran

Film buffs will be well acquainted with the artists featured in the Cinema Museum of Iran.  Located in the lovely Bagh-e Ferdows, another of Tehran’s approximately 800 parks, the museum has an extensive collection of memorabilia and screens classic movies, as well. The building dates to the mid-19th century and is a good example of architecture from the Qajar era. The museum’s outdoor café is a perfect place to relax and people watch.

Building ArtThroughout Tehran, there is an impressive amount of art in unexpected places.  While sitting in the much maligned traffic, I gave thanks the muralists who brighten the city views with fabulous art for all to enjoy.


8 thoughts on “Tehran | Art and Culture

  1. Looks like the Islamic Republic has kept some of the country’s heritage sites in pretty good condition, which is re-assuring. I’m sure there’ll be a big surge in tourism to Iran very soon, so lucky you, Maggie, for having been there before this happens. I lived in Iran for 2 years during the 1970s but it seems like you’ve gotten to see a lot more of the country than I ever did! Well done to you for being a brave and adventurous woman. Love all the photos, some are just exquisite.

    Liked by 1 person

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