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Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art hides its treasures away

Built as monument to old regime, it 'has lost its spirit,' draws few visitors

Most of the museum's artworks in the treasury were hand-picked by former Queen Farah Pahlavi, and largely funded by the National Iranian Oil Co.

TEHRAN, Iran -- Nearly half a century after it opened to international acclaim in 1977, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has well and truly survived the Islamic Revolution that swept away so much else associated with the imperial state.

Commissioned by Iran's former Queen Farah Pahlavi and designed by her cousin Kamran Diba, the museum remains something of an alien influence: a pristine monument to the old regime renowned for its collection of Western art, now valued at up to $10 billion.

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