Chief Executive’s Review - Year Ending 31st December 2012
IHF had another successful year in 2012. One of the flagship programmes for the year was the co–sponsoring of the International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS) 9th Biennial Conference in Istanbul. A record 500+ scholars and academics from around the world attended this most comprehensive conference. More than 400 presentations in over 100 panels covered a wide range of academic topics. The proceedings, some of which will be published in due course, make a lasting contribution to Persian and Iranian Studies.
The year under review witnessed the ongoing development of IHF’s Institutional Partners Programme, through which IHF provides much needed funding for Persian & Iranian studies to academic and cultural institutions in Britain and the United States. Our IPP partners now include SOAS and Cambridge, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities; as well as the British Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum and the Freer & Sackler Gallery in Washington. We look forward to welcoming Tate Modern to this programme in 2013.
The Foundation’s Digitisation Initiative gathered further momentum through the official launch of the newly completed Golha – Flowers of Persian Song and Poetry. This major project to digitise Persian classical music and poetry has been received with critical acclaim and the website is now home to over a thousand hours of artistic performances with comprehensive search capabilities. The Golha website has already received over 2 million visitors, and has been awarded the Best Persian Music Site of the Year by Khane-ye Muzik in Iran.
Our programme to digitise Iran’s cultural heritage continues at the British Library. The process, which will involve documenting and cataloguing online most of the eleven thousand manuscripts in the collection, is now well underway. Over a thousand manuscripts have already been catalogued. The project also aims to digitise about 40 of the most important manuscripts in this collection, making them available to researchers and enthusiasts worldwide. The entire Shah Tahmasb’s copy of Nezami’s Khamsah has already been digitised, and can be viewed on the British Library’s website. A digital version of Iskandar Sultan’s illustrated pocket encyclopedia has been created and will be uploaded in the coming year.
Another 2012 initiative was the establishment of the Iranian Studies Directory. This user–generated site already has 500 members and will encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among scholars and researchers of Persian and Iranian studies around the world.
IHF continues its close collaboration with IHF America, our sister cultural foundation based in the United States. Both charities joined forces to support the ISIS conference in 2012; and in 2013 IHF America is officially sponsoring the British Museum’s unprecedented and spectacular US Tour of the Cyrus Cylinder – described as the First Declaration of Human Rights. This historic object, dating back to 539–538 BC, will tour the five major museum venues in the United States. The inaugural exhibition will be at the Smithsonian in Washington, followed by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles – offering a once–in–a–lifetime opportunity to see the iconic artefact: www.cyruscylinder2013.com
The Foundation’s routine cultural events and programmes in 2012 included various exhibitions, lectures, festivals and workshops. During the year, our Academic Council was strengthened by the addition of three new UK members and the Council’s sub-committees continued to review the many grants, publications and conferences that we support. The IHF Advisory Committee was also enlarged, and the respective Chairs of the Council and the Committee, Professor Hillenbrand and Lord Gowrie, have both agreed to the extension of their tenures. In July 2012, Haleh Anvari joined us as an Executive Director for one year, a most welcome addition to the IHF family.
I join our Board of Trustees in extending heartfelt thanks to all colleagues, volunteers, partners, supporters and benefactors.
Please also visit: www.cyruscylinder2013.com
Neil MacGregor: 2600 years of history in one object