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Iran's Archaeological Society Criticizes 'National Museum' At Khomeini Mausoleum

Food packages for the poor displayed at the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ruhollah Khomeini. May 10, 2020

In a statement on Wednesday, the Society for Iranian Archeology criticized a recent decision of the Cultural Heritage Organization to create a second branch of the National Museum in the opulent mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The plan to transfer two to three thousand artifacts from the National Museum of Iran in the center of Tehran to the basement of Khomeini's Mausoleum south of the capital was announced on August 3.

According to Seda-ye Miras, a website dedicated to cultural heritage, the agreement to create a second branch of the National Museum was made between the Minister of Cultural Heritage Ali-Asghar Mounesand and Khomeini's grandson Seyed Hassan Khomeini who is the Custodian of the Khomeini Shrine and Mausoleum.

Seda-ye Miras also said the cost of the transfer which is estimated at around 2.5 trillion rials (approximately $60 million based on official rate) will be paid by the government.

In their statement, Iranian archaeologists have questioned the recent decision which was taken despite an earlier plan approved by the Cabinet of ministers in 2013.

The plan cited by the statement provided for the allocation of a number of historical government buildings near the current museum where the Foreign Ministry and the National Garden are also located. Most of the buildings in the area date back to late Qajar period (19th century).

"The question and obscurity is why those other plans were put aside and all of a sudden a new plan was adopted without having carried out expert investigations", the statement asks.

The Society for Iranian Archeologists has also pointed out that the "atmosphere of the mausoleum" is more suited to a "museum of the revolution" than a national museum and the contents to be displayed there.

Critics say the mausoleum lacks meaningful historical reference and the plan may reflect an attempt to set up the scene for a personality cult to promote Khomeini.

The mausoleum, usually referred to as the Holy Shrine (Haram Motahhar) built over three decades since Khomeini's death in June 1989. It is a work in progress with more buildings and facilities added over time.

The massive landmark complex houses the tombs of Khomeini, his wife, his second son Ahmad and some political figures including the former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.