Cyrus Cylinder to remain in Iran until Spring
The extension gives people from the provinces the opportunity to visit the exhibition during the Persian New Year holidays
By Martin Bailey. Web only
Published online: 05 January 2011
The British Museum (BM) has agreed to extend the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran’s National Museum. Although it was due to be returned on 16 January, BM trustees took the unusual decision to offer a last-minute extension. As we predicted, it has now been accepted that the antiquity, an inscribed royal decree of 539 BC, can continue on loan to Tehran until 15 April, after the Iranian new year holidays.
A BM spokeswoman explained: “This decision has been taken in recognition of the fact that the exhibition has proved to be very popular. The extension will give an opportunity for people from the provinces, including school groups, to visit the exhibition during the No-Ruz (new year) holidays around 20 March.” So far the Cyrus Cylinder has been seen by over 200,000 visitors, who are allowed in to the gallery on a timed entry system to view the antiquity for a few minutes each.
The BM has also responded to rumours that a replica of the Cyrus Cylinder was sent to Iran. In a statement, the museum commented: “It is very much to be regretted that reports have been circulating that a copy of the Cyrus Cylinder has been sent to Tehran. The trustees would like to deny this in the strongest possible terms. Before the exhibition opened, a panel of Iranian experts was invited to inspect the Cylinder and they confirmed its authenticity. The misunderstanding has arisen because of recent conservation work, which has led to the ends of the Cylinder looking different in various photographs. Conservation work on this and other pieces in the British Museum is an ongoing process, designed to make objects as stable as possible and render them fit to travel.”
The Art Newspaper can report on the real reason for the conservation. A small section of the Cylinder belongs to Yale University, and is on long-term loan to the BM. There were fears that a loan of the Yale fragment to Tehran might fall foul of US sanctions against Iran. It was therefore deemed prudent to remove the Yale fragment before the main part of the Cyrus Cylinder was sent to Tehran (The Art Newspaper, October 2010, p1,7).
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