By Akbar Nematollahi
When Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh took the initiative for the establishment of petroleum industry museums many were wondering which responsibility the ministry would have to fulfil with regard to these museums. Maybe they were not aware that this responsibility was, in fact, a major element in the fulfilment of the social obligations and cultural responsibilities of the Ministry of Petroleum.
History starts where it ends today. For many of us, the past represents a challenging aspect of life because we are not accustomed to sharing our experience with others. Furthermore, since today is very close to us we do not understand the necessity of recording real events for others to learn from. Or we may be taken hostage by security considerations and keep some key events secret. And in some cases, we may not understand the significance of such a necessity.
Museums are not established to become a source of pride and honor for us; rather, the idea behind their formation is to have a chance to precisely record ongoing events. Museums are set up so that we can engage others in our decision-making and behavior that may find another aspect in the future or be misunderstood.
All countries in the world have understood the priority of establishing museums. Museum is a requirement for development, letting us think correctly, make correct decisions, and introduce our identity in the best possible manner.
Specialized museums give us the chance to not analyze the past based on our knowledge of today. The past must be analyzed based on its own circumstances so that our judgment of events would be as precise as possible.
Today is the future of yesterday and tomorrow is today's future. The more the time passes the tougher it would be to find clues to resolving problems.
Each and every event of the past could be effective and helpful for our future judgments.
Oil is now more than a century old in Iran. Every event that has transpired Iran in the past 100 years is intertwined with the history of oil in one way or other.
Revolutions and revolts have all been born out of oil either directly or indirectly in the past century. Many features of people's life in oil-rich areas and next to oil industry facilities have been subject to the petroleum industry developments. The petroleum industry has developed a large number of management, environmental and civil models. We already know how popular movements took shape to free petroleum industry from foreign dominance and how national uprisings helped restore national rights.
In petrostates across the world, the relationship between people's life and the oil-based economy has always been taken into consideration. For example, since the very first day of oil exploration in Norway, this country set up a museum to protect documents. One of the most beautiful buildings in Norway houses the petroleum museum of Norway. In the United States, every moment of petroleum industry has been registered and related documents and artworks are safeguarded. In Britain, Canada and other oil-rich areas, we see efforts for safeguarding the history of petroleum. No valuable document of petroleum history is abandoned to its own fate and all of them are gathered by specialists and experts so that there would be no problem with the identification of history.
In Iran, whose petroleum industry is now 110 years old, the minister of petroleum ordered the formation of petroleum museums and a center for petroleum industry documents in light of the social responsibilities of petroleum industry. This initiative would aim to set up museums in cities and other places that house a segment of petroleum industry. Doubtlessly, safeguarding these historical sites and items would help researchers and historians have an accurate and precise understanding of the petroleum industry.
Apparently this issue lies within the framework of cultural affairs of oil; however, it is an issue lying fully under the category of social responsibilities of oil that would be put on exhibit for viewers through documents and historical objects.
Iran's first petroleum museum is now active in Abadan and another petroleum museum in eastern Iran is about to be inaugurated. Museums are to be set up all across the country so that schoolchildren, students, and researchers would be able to visit them without having to go through the bureaucratic red tape.
Formation of museums in the world has been emphasized by international organizations with a view to safeguarding the identity and prestige of nations. It is a sort of investment covering social and cultural aspects. It also helps prevent the destruction of life of previous generations.
Therefore, it is a national obligation for us to move towards safeguarding and strengthening these fundamentals and share this great experience with our future generations.