Days of Iranian culture… in Novosibirsk, Siberia
This cultural festival is by no means a purely local affair: under its auspices, the city of Novosibirsk was visited by an official delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The governor of Novosibirsk Oblast, Vasiliy Yurchenko, appointed by Vladimir Putin, met with the head of the Iranian delegation, Ebrahimi Torkaman Abuzar. The two men signed a memo on cooperation in art and culture, which includes plans for further exchange, as well as direct cooperation between museums, libraries, educational and scientific institutions. One immediate example of such cooperation is the establishment of professional training courses for teachers of Farsi , which will be conducted at the Siberian Institute of International Relations and Regional Studies. While in town, the delegation visited the Iranian art exhibition and attended performances at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. Mr. Abuzar also proposed to strengthen the cultural connections between Iran and Novosibirsk by hosting a “Days of Novosibirsk Culture” event in Iran.
While a celebration of Novosibirsk culture may seem ridiculous to some, it should be remembered that the city is not only the largest settlement in Siberia, as well as its administrative, industrial, and economic capital, but is also a major educational and cultural center in Russia in general. The abovementioned local museum, founded in 1920, is dedicated to archeological and ethnographic exhibits showcasing local indigenous groups, the history of the city, and the local natural history. One of the more intriguing exhibits is a full mammoth skeleton, found in the vicinity of the city. Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre is the largest theater in Russia, bigger even than the Bolshoi Theater (literally “Big theatre”) in Moscow. But the real fame of Novosibirsk comes from its Akademgorodok (literally “Academic town”), the educational and scientific centre of Siberia housing Novosibirsk State University, 35 research institutes, and a major medical academy. The city of Novosibirsk is home to 32 institutions of higher education (11 universities, 8 academies, and 13 institutes), the largest of which, the Novosibirsk State Technical University, enrolls more than 22,000 students. Even street names in the city underscore its scientific and cultural role: Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Mozart, Shakespeare.
But despite its cultural and educational riches, Novosibirsk strikes many visitors as a rather grim city. It is unlikely to attract many international tourists.