[P4811] Presenting and Representing Iran in Museum Collections and Exhibitions

Created by Anne H. Betteridge
Sunday, 11/19/17 10:30am


The panel “Presenting and Representing Iran in Museum Collections and Exhibitions” will address issues in the ways Iranian art is understood and presented in the collections and exhibitions of North American museums. In addition to being influenced by developments in scholarship on art history, museum studies, and representation more generally, curators grapple with the important challenge of how to inspire and respond to interest about a country that is often in the news, yet little understood among the general public. Too, curators take into account diaspora community members’ concern to appreciate and understand their country of origin and introduce it to their children.

Given the rich Persian and Iranian art holdings of some prominent North American museums, the vibrant field of modern Iranian art, and the complications of sharing artworks internationally, curators face daunting decisions regarding what to acquire and exhibit, when, and how. Museum collections and exhibitions offer the opportunity to share Persian and Iranian material culture—a fascinating and often appealing medium to spark curiosity about and encourage understanding of art, artists, and the cultures they represent—and place it in the broader contexts of history and cross-regional connections. Panelists, who are all both scholars of Islamic art and experienced museum professionals, will discuss the themes of past, current, and upcoming exhibitions of Iranian art; reflect on the decision-making that informs collecting and exhibition design; and consider the challenges and rewards of realizing these choices in several museums with noteworthy collections of Persian and Iranian art.

In turn, panelists will give illustrated presentations on the history of Iranian art acquisition and exhibition in one museum collection, the appropriation and reframing of Iranian history in an upcoming exhibit of artworks from 1500 to the present, challenges confronted in exhibiting Iranian art in the 21st century, and the active program of a new museum’s exhibits related to multiple dimensions of Iranian art, including film. Taken together, the presentations will constitute a multi-faceted discussion of the current state of scholarship and practice related to the representation of Iran in museum settings and, to borrow the title of the Annual Iranian Film Festival in Washington, DC, efforts to encourage “Reseeing Iran”.


American Institute of Iranian Studies (AIIrS)


Art/Art Hist



Anne H. Betteridge

(University of Arizona)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer;

Sheila R. Canby

(Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Linda Komaroff

(Los Angeles COunty Museum of Art)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Sumru Belger Krody

(GWU Museum and The Textile Museum)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Amy Landau

(The Walters Art Museum)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Filiz Cakir Phillip

(Aga Khan Museum)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;