Listen to our new podcast as part of the Arts In Isolation Series. Layla S. Diba narrates her experiences directing the Negarestan Museum in Tehran—and how it was erased from history.


Layla Soudabar Diba is an Iranian-American independent scholar and curator, specializing in 18th/19th-century and contemporary Persian art and the Qajar period. She has curated various exhibitions, such as the Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch 1783-1925 (1998-1999) exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum and co-curated Iran Modern (2013) at New York’s Asia Society.

From 1975 to 1979, Diba was the founding director of Negārestān Museum, a public collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century Iranian painting, based in Tehran.  The Museum was established by Queen Farah Pahlavi to promote the Persian art of the 18th and 19th-century.

An example of Qajar painting is to be found below. The painting shows  Prophet Joseph with Zulaykha, the wife of Potiphar. (Image courtesy of J. De Lara).