0917 GMT August 22, 2019
Although Iran’s Museum of Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense is classified as a war museum, its name does not connote Iran’s warmongering, and it has great potential to turn into one of the major tourist attractions of the country.
The Holy Defense Museum is one of the biggest museum gardens in Iran which consists of different sections including Quartet Halls, Artificial Lake, Water Screen Projection and Amphitheater, all of which help convey the concept of the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense.
Tehran Book Garden, National Library and Archives of Iran, Academy of Science and Academy of Persian Language and Literature are also built next to the museum.
Iran Daily conducted an interview with the Managing Director of the Museum of Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Ali-Asghar Jafari in order to become familiar with the history of the museum and its future programs.
The full text of the interview follows:
IRAN DAILY: What distinguishes this museum from others?
ALI-ASGHAR JAFARI: Built in 2011 and located on a landscaped site of 21 hectares, with 70,000 square meters of built-up area, is one of the largest and most technical museums of Iran, also the most modern in West Asia. The Panorama Museum of this complex, which is one of the largest in West Asia, along with technological equipment are in service of introducing and displaying Iran’s epic resistance during the eight years of the Holy War (1980-1988).
The Holy Defense Museum is classified as a war museum. It is a member of International Council of Museums (ICOM) and International Committee of ICOM (ICOMAM), but since Iran is not a war-seeking country, this museum was not named as a war museum. During the eight years of war, Iranians used weapons only to defend themselves and their country. In addition, during the last 300 years, not even a single bullet has been fired by Iranians to begin a war, or to usurp land. Even after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the war ministry took the name of the Defense Ministry.
The museum amalgamates technology with art to convey the message of Iranians, who resisted the despotic regime supported by almost 30 countries and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and injured, and yet refused to accept inferiority with respect to the world. This inferiority was imposed on Iranians by their pre-revolution rulers, but Iranians did not accept the inferiority anymore and sacrificed the best of its youths to defend itself.
Most of the war museums in the world are centered on war apparatus and display military equipment of different historical eras, while the Holy Defense Museum also focuses on soft power and cultural issues.
Although we were in a war with Iraq for eight years, we have had a positive outlook toward the Iraqi people. Interestingly, the museum even receives visitors from Iraq; the reason is that the museum was not built against the Iraqi people; rather it was erected against the wrong policies of Saddam Hussein, which also caused a great deal of trouble even for the Iraqis.
Therefore, we lambaste the policy of warfare, chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction, on the one hand, and admire resistance, humanitarian acts and human dignity, on the other.
In this museum, visitors can see Iranian behavior toward the Ba’athists. Iraqi prisoners of war held in Iran were taught different styles of swimming and other courses, and they could even continue their education. But Iranian prisoners of war died under the Ba’athists’ brutal torture, or if they remained alive, they are now suffering from being physically disabled as a result of the war and torture.
From which aspect is the museum the most modern in West Asia?
We have gathered thorough information regarding all the museums of West Asia. The Holy Defense Museum is the most modern in terms of using the most updated technological features including state-of-the-art video and audio systems, smart systems and central control systems. The museum is also equipped with a mobile museum guide for introducing different sections of it.
The museum is the largest in the country in terms of the size of its halls, galleries and water screen. The 5D cinema of the museum is one of the best of its kind in Iran. The film-based 360-degree panoramic projection of the art center is the only one in West Asia.
The museum’s water screen, on which films are projected, is the only one in Iran.
Also, the museum has electronically recreated mined locations, so that visitors could experience fake mine blasting.
How do you evaluate public interest in the museum? Does the price of tickets cover the museum’s expenditure?
The museum hosts a great number of domestic and foreign visitors. The number of visitors increased by 10 percent in the year that ended on March 20, 2019. At present, the museum welcomes about 1,200 to 1,500 visitors daily.
The tickets cover less than 10 percent of the museum’s expenses. We also have free visits for students, soldiers, family members of Iran’s Armed Forces and martyrs.
What is the reason behind this growth?
Discounts and free programs were not the main factors for the rise in the number of visitors, because we had them in the previous years, too. Advertisements aimed at introducing the museum were the most influential cause. Previously, the cultural site was not known to many people, so we arranged broad advertisements to introduce the museum to the people. About 60 TV programs were made and broadcast to this end. The museum is so amazing that whoever visited it recommended it to others.
Last Iranian year, which ended on March 20, 2019, the museum attracted more foreign tourists than ever. The museum welcomed many visitors from neighboring countries, European countries and even American countries.
The highest number of European visitors were from Germany; the reason being that the museum was introduced in one of Germany’s tourism books.