The Cyrus Cylinder at the British Museum.

LONDON - The Rahim Irvani Gallery of Ancient Iran at the British Museum was put to good use last night when approximately 100 people gathered to celebrate the launch of the Cyrus Cylinder’s Tour of the United States. This important journey will also mark the start of yet another significant initiative: the launch of Iran Heritage Foundation in the US (IHF America). As a diaspora organization, IHF has accomplished many landmark projects and initiatives. Sponsoring acclaimed exhibitions in national institutions such as the Shah Abbas and Forgotten Empire: Achaemenid Persia at the British Museum, the charity relies solely on private donations. The Cyrus Cylinder tour is the most recent of its partnerships, and will unfold a mission of cultural diplomacy and dialogue at a most opportune moment. It has been the vision of BM Director Neil Macgregor and Keeper of Special Middle East Projects Dr John Curtis to display this small object that essentially charted the first bill of human rights, in five prestigious US museum venues. As Dr Curtis pointed out in his speech at the launch reception, Cyrus the Great showed the world that it was possible to conquer but not destroy and subjugate—a most extraordinary feat of tolerance at the time. Those gathered to mark this maiden voyage seemed moved by its mission. Well-known author Karen Armstrong described the significance of the project as an audience that included collectors, patrons of the arts, benefactors and philanthropists, gallerists and journalists who took note of the momentous occasion. Some of us will follow the tour of this object, and I hope to send word from its first stop—the Sackler Smithsonian on March 5th. Stay tuned.

Below the slideshow, watch the video which was first broadcast in Farsi, on Wednesday 20th February, BBC Farsi.