The Azerbaijan Museum, the major archaeological and historical museum in Tabriz, which was established on April 1958, situated next to the famous Blue Mosque, and it may be the nicest museum in Iran. It consists of three parts; in the entrance, you will find the archaeological department, which tells the story of Azerbaijan from the fifth century until the Sassanid era.
Azerbaijan museum has three galleries. The first gallery bears the oldest remains since 5th millennium BC until Sassanid dynasty (212-656 AD). The museum’s monuments include goddesses, a splendid Achaemenid Rhytons and a marvelous gold cup from the same age, two skeletons (male and female) and a carved slab of marble known as Bism Allah-Stone, The most beautiful objects were, easily, the precious Sassanid gold and silver dishes that surprise the visitor upon entering. They are so beautiful that you will probably think that they are made by a modern artist. The museum also shows some objects from other parts of Iran, like bronzes from Luristan and a Parthian figurine from Susa.
The second gallery consists of two parts: one for Islamic archeology and another part for coins and seals. Part 1 involves pottery dated from the 10th to the 19th centuries. The coins of this gallery (part two), began with the Achamenid dynasty and end in the Qajar dynasty. The displayed seals and stamps date from the third millennium BC to Islamic eras.
The third gallery in the basement includes several tall bronze statues made by Ahad Hosseini. They are made of plaster and represent the sculptor’s own image about the fate of humankind in the 20th century. No one cannot deny that they were impressive works of art by someone with a gloomy view of the future of humankind. In the garden, you will find several inscriptions and other stone objects, mostly Islamic.
There is much to praise. The curators have wisely ignored that unfortunate European fashion to display objects in the dark and use low-key light to make them look mysterious. There is also a good bookshop in Azerbaijan museum where you can buy archaeological reports and a DVD with photos of the full collection — a kind of digital catalog. If there is something to be critical about, it is the explanatory signs, which might be a bit longer: for example, there is a splendid sword with the inscription “from Shimas Shipack, king of the world”. That is a minor quibble; the Azerbaijan Museum in Tabriz is splendid and certainly worth a visit.