Glassware and Ceramic Museum formerly known as Abgineh opened in 1980, the museum is housed in the 1915 mansion of a former prime minister in Reza Shah's government, and from 1953—60 it functioned as the Egyptian Embassy, so the building itself has architectural merit.
There are two floors of displays in the Abgineh Museum that include dramatic ‘Nishapur' slip-painted ceramics Of the early medieval period, glass works from the 12th—13th century, known as the Golden Age of glass-making in Iran, lustreware from the Gorgan and other excavations, 14th-century pottery from Takht-e Soleyman and some later Safavid and Qajar ceramics.
Most of the glass, however, some 260 pieces, is exhibited on the ground floor on the Glassware and Ceramic Museum.
Different Sections of the Abgineh Museum
The first floor of the Ceramic Museum of Iran is connected to the second by wooden steps in Russian style. Prior to the building’s transformation into the Egyptian Embassy, the entrance of the museum was dome-shaped but was later flattened.
Objects exhibited in the Abgineh Museum belong to a span of time beginning from pre- Islamic period up to contemporary Iran. There is plenty of exquisite plasterwork performed by Iranian masters on the interior walls of the building. On the first floor, at the entrance of the museum, the hall showcases the location of archeological sites under excavation. On the walls are maps showing ancient regions on the Iranian plateau as well as a useful timetable of ancient civilizations.
The Glassware and Ceramic Museum objects, in general, can be divided into five categories, which are displayed in different halls.
Enamel and Crystal Gallery
Potteries in the Enamel Section consist of samples of plain clay vessels having angular and animal patterns.
On some artifacts, the early examples of glass glazes dating back to the 3rd millennium BC can be found.
The collection of Chogha-Zanbil temple glass tubes as well as opaque perfume holders, ornaments and seals exhibited belong to the first and second millennium BC.
In the Crystal Section, Achaemenian and Parthian cut crystal vessels and bottles are displayed for visitors. Various vessels of Sasanian and post-Islam period are also added to this collection bearing molded, applied, pressed and cut decorations.
Nacre and Gold Gallery
The evolution of Sassanian arts and techniques are observed in the Nacre gallery. Some samples of 9th to 13th centuries AD are also exhibited in this gallery. In fact, the flourishing period of glassware and pottery is presented here. Artifacts presented in the Gold Gallery consist of enameled and luster vessels of the 10th to 13th centuries.
The inscriptions are generally expressions, good prayers and poems attributed to Nezami and Ferdowsi. Patterns are mainly human figures in various ceremonies and animals, especially birds.
Following the damage suffered by the glass and pottery-making centers in Iran, Safavid king, Shah Abbas I, initiated the revival of lapis-lazuli and enhanced it with the help of Chinese and Italian artists.
The objects of these two galleries show marked changes in the forms and decorations of glassware and pottery artifacts using lapis-lazuli stones. Vases, sprinklers and ewers in lapis lazuli and light orange colors belong to Shiraz and Isfahan.
There are also crystal vessels belonging to the 18th and 19th centuries from Europe exhibited in a separate showcase.
A library, located in the northwest section of the gardens surrounding the Glassware and Ceramic Museum, has approximately 3,000 books in Farsi and English on archeology, history and arts for students and researchers.