Iran museums reopen after year-long Covid break

Artifacts are on display at the National Museum of Iran, which houses exhibits from the early Palaeolithic to the Qajar period, in the capital Tehran on September 19, 2021. — AFP pic
Artifacts are on display at the National Museum of Iran, which houses exhibits from the early Palaeolithic to the Qajar period, in the capital Tehran on September 19, 2021. — AFP pic

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TEHRAN, Sept 19 — Iran reopened museums in Tehran and other cities today after a more than year-long closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Museums in Tehran and other large cities that are no longer red-coded, meaning the risk of contracting the virus was very high, reopened today,” the director of Iran’s museums, Mohammad-Reza Kargar, told AFP.

“Tourists and visitors are welcome to return while observing (sanitary) measures.”

A country with a millennia-long history, Iran has an abundance of 746 museums, including 170 in the capital.

“We are absolutely delighted, and we think the people are too because they were fed up with staying home, and visiting museums improves their mood,” Kargar said in his tourism and heritage ministry office.

“We have safety protocols in place of course, and the number of visitors will be dependent on the space at our sites so the public stays safe and healthy.”

Kargar said only students, researchers and staff were allowed into museums during the past 14 months.

Iran’s museums attracted more than 21 million visitors in the year before the outbreak of Covid-19 that forced museums to close in May 2020.

Today, the National Museum of Iran with its magnificent collection of treasures dating back to the Bronze and Iron ages was still deserted.

“We have to wait for the news to spread and schools to reopen for people to come back,” explained Firouzeh Sepidnameh, head of the museum’s pre-Islamic collections.

Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, has confirmed more than 5.4 million cases of coronavirus, including 117,000 deaths, according to figures issued today by the health ministry.

Out of a population of 83 million, 29 million Iranians have received a first dose of vaccination and almost 14 million have been fully vaccinated against the virus. — AFP

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