BY: Akbar Nematollahi
Since the beginning of the Petroleum Museums and Documents Center activities four years ago, it has achieved the following targets: Registering 104 historical oil industry sites and the inauguration of one Petroleum Museum. In addition, the center plans to inaugurate two other petroleum museums in near future and has made arrangements for launching 24 others across the country.
Petroleum Museums and Documents Center establishment, even though it got underway with several decades delay and was faced with many ifs and buts; this time was taken seriously and despite the existence of many obstacles and hardships, including lack of facilities or desirable conditions, now it has been launched and entered an irreversible path.
Without inauguration of Abadan Gas Station Museum, which was launched on the venue of the first gas station of the country, facing widespread welcome, and without launching the Abadan Apprentice Museum, which so far has not been inaugurated officially, and registering tens of oil industry facilities and places as cultural heritage; it was never possible to talk about the Petroleum Museums achievements.
In other words, identification of oil industry places with historical value and trying to preserve and saving them against further damages were among the initial but essential steps that Petroleum Museums and Documents Center took.
These places included Darkhovain and Paytagh pumping facilities as well as Darvazeh Dowlat Gas Station in the capital. Without the establishment of Petroleum Museums, these places either had been forgotten or had faced the threat of undergoing damage under the pretext of turning into commercial centers or using for the urban development purposes.
Unfortunately, in some cases, old facilities and oil industry buildings have been destroyed so that their restoration is impossible. Even though Petroleum Museums and Documents Center has started the restoration of Darvazeh Dowelat gas station in Tehran, there are a number of similar old gas stations with old architecture across the country which either have been destroyed or have been changed for other uses before being registered as national heritage.
Promoting industrial tourism, especially in the cities with an old history of oil like Masjed Solyman, Abadan and Kermanshah and other cities was one of the main targets of establishing and developing petroleum museums. Petroleum Museums and Documents Center has expanded its activities to the cities which apparently have nothing to do with oil industry including in Kerman where the center plans to turn the former British consulate in the city into a petroleum museum.
Not only Kerman in the southeast of the country, but other cities like Sabzevar in the northeast of the country have been closely linked with the distribution of oil, gasoline and other oil products, where one petroleum museum has been launched recently with the private sector initiative. An oil storage facility in Mashhad is the other site which has been considered for being changed into a petroleum museum.
In this short article, I don’t want to speak about the very details of each petroleum museum we have on the agenda to establish and if I want to write about the special futures of the petroleum museums which are set to be launched in Masjed Solyman or even about our future plans in Abadan, where two petroleum museums have been already launched and construction of three others is underway; it will be very lengthy.
Generally, the management of Petroleum Museums and Documents Center is hopeful to succeed in launching petroleum museums across the country and open a new window before the oil industry and those who are interested in Iran’s contemporary history and its events. Doing so, Petroleum Museums and Documents Center will attempt to take advantage of the oil and cultural heritage experts’ views as well as international experiences in the field of preserving oil industry heritage and launching petroleum museums.