As well as being the capital of Iran, Tehran is also the country's most secular and liberal city, and its main financial hub. As the nation's dynamic beating heart, Tehran is home to a booming art scene, with many excellent museums, cultural centres, and institutions, and a large number of commercial galleries scattered around the vast and unique metropolis.
The three decades before the 1979 revolution saw the opening of many of Iran's major art museums, cultural centres, institutions, and commercial galleries. During these formative decades, the Iranian art scene began to become recognised globally, and artistic collaborations boomed through Iran becoming the cultural hub of the region, regularly holding events and festivals, and attracting the most well-known and influential artists, collectors, and art patrons from around the world. Many of Tehran's most important cultural centres—such as Vahdat Hall, which was once home to the Tehran Opera Company and the Iranian National Ballet Company, and remains home to Tehran's Symphony Orchestra; and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, still home to some of the world's most important and finest Iranian and Western art—were built during this time.
The revolution of 1979 opened a whole new chapter in the history and direction of Iranian art. Even though it put the breaks on the Modernist and subversive artistic movements of the pre-revolution Iran, it ultimately gave birth to a whole new era of socially and politically engaged art.
Today, Iranian art is a powerhouse of Middle Eastern art and one of the most unique forces within the global art scene. Despite the country being home to many active art centres, museums, and government-funded institutions, it is dominantly the privately funded galleries and institutions that discover and promote the best of contemporary Iranian art, carry out quality presentations and exchange programmes, collaborate worldwide, and develop and fund cultural ideas. For some of the best exhibitions in town check the programmes of Assar Art Gallery, Ab-Anbar, AG Galerie, Dastan, Etemad Gallery, Homa Art Gallery, Mohsen Gallery, O Gallery, Seyhoun Art Gallery, Silk Road Gallery, and Shirin Gallery.
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