Dr John Curtis Appointed CEO of Iran Heritage Foundation and IHF America


Iran Heritage Foundation announces the appointment of Dr John Curtis OBE FBA as Chief Executive Officer of IHF and IHF America effective January 1st, 2014. Dr Curtis joins Iran Heritage Foundation from the British Museum where he was Keeper of the Middle East Department until 2011 and is currently Keeper of Special Middle East Projects.

The Trustees welcome Dr. John Curtis in this leadership position with great enthusiasm,” said Alireza Rastegar, Chairman of IHF America and trustee of Iran Heritage Foundation. “In addition to working with IHF on two major exhibitions in the past, John has been working very closely with IHF America over the past two years on organizing the highly successful ‘Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia’ touring exhibition which has been on display in five major U.S. cities, currently in Los Angeles, and visited so far by more than a quarter of a million visitors.

Dr John Curtis is a leading scholar and a pioneering archeologist specializing on the history of Middle East, and particularly ancient Iran with more than 100 published articles and 20 books.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said: “I congratulate John on becoming CEO of the Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF). John has made an extraordinary contribution to the work of the British Museum as head of the Department of the Middle East and, over the past decade, through his outstanding engagement with the archaeology and heritage of Iraq, which is now culminating in the opening of a new museum in Basrah. John has also been committed to increasing our understanding of the importance and significance of Iranian culture, most prominently through the creation of a new Iranian Gallery at the Museum and two groundbreaking exhibitions on Ancient Persia and the rule of Shah Abbas (both of which were generously supported by the IHF). I am delighted that he will continue to support the work of the British Museum with ongoing responsibility for special Middle Eastern projects. The British Museum looks forward to continuing to work in collaboration with John and the Trustees of the Iran Heritage Foundation on future projects highlighting the varied and vital cultures of Iran.

Dr John Curtis said: “Over the last 18 years the IHF has done a great deal to promote the cultural heritage of Iran, and it is a great honour to be given the chance to build on that foundation. Together with the Trustees I look forward to initiating and supporting projects about all aspects of Iranian cultural heritage and raising awareness of the great contribution of Iran to world civilization.


About Dr John Curtis OBE FBA

John Curtis studied Near Eastern archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in London and joined the British Museum in 1971. From 1989 to 2011 he was Keeper of the Middle East Department and since 2011 he has been Keeper of Special Middle East Projects. He specializes in the archaeology and history of Iran and Iraq from 1000 BC to 330 BC and has travelled and excavated extensively in both countries. He curated the special exhibitions ‘Forgotten Empire: the World of Ancient Persia’ (British Museum 2005–6) and ‘The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: a New Beginning for the Middle East’ that was shown in Tehran and is now touring the USA

Dr Curtis has written or edited more than 20 books and more than 100 scholarly articles. Seven of his books have been translated into Persian. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (BFA) in 2003 and was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006. He is a corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute and the Archaeological Institute of America. He has received special awards from the Iran Heritage Foundation in 2005 and 2013. He is married to Dr Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, curator of Middle Eastern coins at the British Museum, and they have two grown–up children

About IHF America

IHF America is a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and preserving Persian culture, history, languages, and art, and is the U.S. counterpart of the Iran Heritage Foundation, the leading supporter of Iranian Studies in the U.K.

IHF maintains relationships and institutional partnerships with more than 30 major museums and universities across Europe and North America. Leveraging nearly two decades of cultural work, IHF promotes academic research through establishing Iranian Studies programs, fellowships, grants, scholarships, publications, and digitization efforts.

Through association with leading museums and universities IHF organizes exhibitions and convenes conferences on the history and contemporary culture of Iran. The long-awaited Cyrus Cylinder tour of the U.S., organized through a partnership between the British Museum, IHF, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, is among such efforts bringing one of the most iconic objects surviving the ancient world to five major U.S. cities.

IHF America is a US-based registered 501(c)(3) public charity and its mission and programs are non-political and non-religious.