Last summer, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran, which has one of the most significant collections of Western art in the Middle East, gained international attention when it reopened after a 42-year-long closure. Just a year later, it has made headlines for an entirely different reason: a silverfish sighting that forced the museum to close for fumigation.
On Wednesday, the BBC’s Persian outlet posted a video showing two silverfish crawling across a photograph by Bernd and Hilla Becher, who are considered key artists of the Conceptualist movement of the 1960s and ’70s. The video became a sensation on Instagram, where it racked up more than 1 million views.
The museum subsequently closed so that the premises could be fumigated. No damage was done to the Bechers’ photograph, the museum said in a statement posted to Facebook apologizing for the silverfish. No other insects were spotted on other artworks in the museum.
“According to the evidence seen in the paintings, and since so far no damage to cellular parts of any of the paintings examined, seen or reported by museum experts, it is likely that these insects are from the museum’s anterior spaces,” a group of experts on entomology and historical artifacts wrote in a joint statement posted by the museum.
The Bechers’ photograph was included in a 130-work show of Minimalist and Conceptual art from the museum’s collection. Also featured in it are major pieces by Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt. Many of these works have been hidden away since the Iranian revolution of 1979.
According to the Associated Press, the show has been a hit. Some 17,000 people have reportedly seen it since it opened in June.