Financial Times: The Victoria and Albert Museum will next year stage the biggest UK exhibition on Iranian art and design for nearly a century, amid the Gulf country’s increasing isolation in the face of escalating tensions with the US.
“Epic Iran” will showcase 300 objects from 5,000 years of Iranian history at the museum’s London base, including illuminated manuscripts, finely wrought carpets, ceramics and metalwork.
Tristram Hunt, V&A director, said the museum had been in close discussions with the Iranian embassy in London and was working with the National Museum of Iran over potential loans for the show. Scheduled to open in October 2020, the exhibition would help British audiences learn about the art of “one of the world’s greatest historic civilisations”, he said.
The political backdrop, however, has worsened. President Donald Trump last year took the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and ramped up sanctions against Tehran. Last month Mr Trump threatened military action against Iran after it downed a US spy drone.
Mr Hunt said the intensified sanctions and “militaristic language” had complicated the “landscape” behind the show.
“Every week [staging the exhibition] becomes more challenging. But in a sense that means every week it’s more important to do. It seems to me more valuable . . . that we think about broader narratives of that civilisation and those cultures,” he said.
Mr Hunt was speaking at the publication of the V&A’s annual review, where the museum set out its plans for 2020 as well as summing up its activities over the past year. The museum’s London sites attracted 4.3m visitors in 2017-18, just short of its tally in the previous year.