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Iranian museum's hidden artworks

September 21, 2007

Re "Picasso is hiding in Iran," Column One, Sept. 19

I was entranced by this article on Western paintings in the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. As a lover of 19th and 20th century French and American painting, I am saddened to find that great masterworks are hidden from the public eye. Trying to place myself in the author's shoes during an elevator ride into the bowels of an Iranian museum, I found myself thinking a chilling thought: I wonder if, in case of war, the U.S. military learned its lesson in Iraq and has contingency plans to secure these works of art in a way that they didn't at the National Museum in Baghdad? A Marine friend told me we lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis when we secured oil fields but left their national artwork open to plunder. Why does a lovely story about a curator elicit such paranoid feelings? Because we still live in the same crazy world that allowed the artists mentioned in the story to thrive, and I, a musician living in California, feel like I have no power to stop the insanity on all sides.

Jonathan Talberg

Director of Choral, Vocal

and Opera Studies

Cal State Long Beach

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