People, Travel

Russian Museum for Closer Ties

Russian Museum for Closer TiesRussian Museum for Closer Ties

Russia and Iran are forging closer cultural relations as both countries open their doors to tourists.  

Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage, told The Art Newspaper’s online edition that the St. Petersburg-based museum plans to step up ties with Iran and is revamping its permanent exhibition of Iranian art.

“We now have an agreement reached in principle about new contacts between our archeologists,” Piotrovsky said. He expects that archeologists “will soon hold talks both about museum exchanges and the possible joint archeological work.”

The Hermitage, which has an extensive Persian collection, hosted the Eighth European Conference of Iranian Studies in 2015. An exhibition about Ibn Battuta, the 14th-century Berber traveler and scholar who visited Iran, was held to coincide with the event. The Hermitage is also interested in Iranian contemporary art, with Piotrovsky confirming that trips by the museum’s contemporary art specialists are planned.

Meanwhile, Russia and Iran signed a tourism co-operation agreement in Tehran in February and culture is being emphasized as one of the main attractions for tourists from both countries. They also agreed last year to simplify visa procedures.

Rostourism, Russia’s federal tourism agency, which is under the ministry of culture, noted in a report on its website that Iran is a “promising destination for educational tourism”, citing the country’s 19 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Tehran and Moscow facilitated visa procedures in January, and are reportedly discussing the possibility of waving visa requirements altogether.