PROJECT GENERAL INFORMATION
Name: Malek National Library and Museum Institution, Private Collection
Location: Tehran, Iran
Architect in Charge: Firouz Firouz
Inauguration Date: 1997
Renovation Date: 2004
Built Area: 240 sqm
Type: Museum, Renovation
Project Manager: Ali Akbar Torabi
Contract Administration: Hossein Ebrahimi Amin
Lighting Design: Farahnaz Pourbabaei
Lighting Fixtures: Houman Kamali
Showcase Details: Arash Milani Nia
Showcase Construction: Hourshar Co.
Wall lining: Miderpoushesh Pars Co.
Throughout the halls of the Malek National Library and Museum, one of the largest collections of precious manuscripts in Iran is displayed. Haj Hussein Agha Malek, a collector and philanthropist, donated his family’s vast collection to the Astan Qods Rezavi organization, an autonomous charitable foundation in Mashhad, Iran. This design was for a particular show room for Mrs. Ezzat Malek Soudavar, Mr. Malek’s daughter, to display her donated private collection. While it was important that the original architecture should be altered as minimally as possible, it became clear that the structure was not up to museum standards. As a result, adjustments had to be made in order to transform the room into an adequate museum space. Lighting, acoustics, and showcases were all designed to achieve the standards.
Originally, there were six large windows along the stretched octagonal form of the room. This, along with an old lighting system were not appropriate for such a museum space. The six windows were filled in and a new rail-system of lighting was installed, allowing more control of the lighting and reducing the chance of damages to the displayed items from natural light and exposure. In determining how to design this new filled-in space, important considerations had to be made to accommodate the particular pieces to be displayed there. A large 2 x 4 m painting became the inspiration for the room as a whole.
The painting, Meydan Mashq by Mohammad Hassan Afshar, depicts a public square full of soldiers drilling their military exercises. Mirza Muzaffar Al-Din Sepahsalar visiting his predecessor, Nasser Al-din Shah (reigned from 1840s – 1890s) in the foreground. Their blue military suits melding into the blue sky, spilling out into the deep blue walls of the new design. A color of nobility, the royal blue became the inspiration for the design, pulling it together. Further, the shade of color made it possible to reflect less light, soften it, and further control its uniform spread across surfaces and showcases while at the same time, dark enough to hide the lighting equipment.
In addition to the renovation of the room structure itself, the glass showcases and their positioning in the space were also designed carefully. An important goal of the project was to not only display items effectively, but simultaneously protect them against corrosive elements and decay. The overall design of both the room and the showcases themselves factor in and protect against issues of humidity, light, UV, heat, fire hazards, air circulation, servicing and security. Likewise, the items themselves were studied to determine the best form and angles of display. Therefore, the final designs are built strong with the latest materials to effectively display and safely house these sensitive documents and items. Overall, the goal was to build a vitrine which all of its parts are in harmony with each other. This harmony, in turn, spills into the layout of the entire collection, melding fluidly through the careful illumination of the space as a whole.