Mental Floss

Tehran Just Replaced All Its Billboards with Art

Sonia Weiser

Imagine how different your daily commute would be if every billboard you passed on your way to work showcased a giant piece of art. In Tehran, that fantasy is now a reality thanks to a 10-day project called "A Gallery as Big As a Town." The installation is part of mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf's effort to beautify the city, and the scale of the project is impressive; 1500 of Tehran's billboards now display art. But it isn't just Islamic work that's being featured: Sitting alongside Persian artists like Mahmoud Farshchian are massive reproductions of Rembrandt, Hockney, and Picasso.

In an interview for Khabaronline, project manager Mojtaba Mousavi noted that while the artwork had to follow some general guidelines (70 percent of the billboards feature Iranian artists) and the curators did need approval from authorities, they actually had a lot of freedom to choose the art they wanted. And while beautifying Tehran and taking people's minds off of advertising is a big part of the project's mission, the initiative is also intended to raise awareness for the city's art museums. For instance, Tehran's Museum of Contemporary Art houses iconic pieces from artists like Monet, Warhol, Rothko, van Gogh, and Magritte, and Mousavi and others hope that the billboards will motivate the public to make a visit.