Kanoon, Tropenmuseum Junior's partner

May 2004 -

In September 2003, Tropenmuseum Junior opened Paradise and Co. about Iran. Continuing along this theme, the museum initiated Kids-at-Iran.nl: thirty Dutch and thirty Iranian children learn about one another’s cultures via Internet, video letters, photography, animation and art. The Iranian partner for this project is Kanoon. This foundation supplies the project coordinator, the teachers and the location in Iran.

Kanoon, also known as The Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, is a government organisation that strives to develop the artistic talents of children and youths. Its main office in Teheran directs more than five hundred centres, most of which are libraries. In turn, these centres organise extra-curricular activities for children in areas including language, computers, writing, drawing, painting, film, theater and science. Kanoon has its own historical museum as well as a museum in which Kanoon’s ‘own’ collection is stored, including original illustrations, films and theatre decors.

Kanoon also encourages artists, film makers, writers, designers and illustrators to produce high-quality products for and with children and youths: films, animations, CD ROMs, children’s toys, and books.

‘Artists in Iran like to work for Kanoon,’ says Saskia Goldschmidt, Kids-at-Iran project manager. ‘Everything that has anything to do with adults is closely monitored in Iran. But children are not watched as closely, giving artists free space. What is more, the master-pupil principle is very common in Iran. Many masters of the arts teach their crafts to children through Kanoon, such as famous Iranian film directors.’

Kanoon started the exchange project by establishing a ‘Dutch club’. To the surprise of all, two hundred Iranian children immediately applied. ‘The people of Iran do not have many opportunities to contact non-Islamic societies,’ Goldschmidt explains. ‘But there is a great desire for contact with the outside world. The parents recognised this as a means to broaden their children’s horizon.’