Radiofarda – Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization is planning to build a second “national museum” in the basement of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum, which is one of the most venerated sites for the clerical rulers of the Islamic Republic.
The website of the organization says “2-3 thousand ancient artifacts” will be placed in the new museum and will make the mausoleum the second national museum in the country.
Khomeini’s tomb is one of the most lavish and largest complexes in Iran, which has cost hundreds of million of dollars to build and expand over three decades since his death in 1989.
While relatively popular in the first years of the revolution, Khomeini became a symbol of despotism and regression for many Iranians as they lost their social freedoms under harsh Islamic rules and Iran became an isolated country.
It is not clear why the site of new museum should be the tomb of the controversial founder of the Islamic Republic.
Mohammad-Reza Kargar the general manager of museums told the website has defended the project saying that the current national museum has no more space to display ancient artifacts and it is necessary to establish a second branch.
The “first phase” of the project will cost 2.5 trillion rials or close to $60 million, the heritage organization says; at a time when Iran is in a financial crisis and labor strikes pop up around the country.
The area considered for the museum is 25,000 square meters or 269,000 sq. feet. Currently, the space is being used by a foundation for safeguarding and re-publication of Khomeini’s works.
This foundation is run by the grandson of the Khomeini and receives budget from the government. This year, it received 660 billion rials from the government (around $16 million) for republication of Khomeini’s works, upkeep of his mausoleum and for “research Center of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution”.