Malek National Library and Museum

Malek National Library and Museum were functioning in Malek House until 1996. But Haj Hossein had already thought of its development and had the foresight to predict a larger building. He thus purchased a piece of land on July 19, 1944, in Bagh-e Melli square (the current location of the Institution) and devoted it to the Library and Museum.

Construction of the new building didn’t come about during Haj Hossein Agha’s life. Finally, Astan Quds Razavi commenced the construction of the new building in 1985, and it was accomplished in 1996.

In terms of organizational structure, Malek National Library and Museum is a private, non-profit institution which, according to the Letter of Endowment, as other cultural institutions depended on Astan Quds Razavi, is to be managed directly under the supervision of the Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi.

The components of the institution consist of a General Assembly, Approbative Supervisor, Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Legal Inspector.

About Haj Hossein Agha Malek

Haj Hossein Agha Malek was born in 1873, in Tehran to a family of Tabriz origin. Although his ancestors were known to be clergymen, his grandfather Agha Mehdi refrained from being clergy and joined the army during the Russo-Persian war and turned to business after the war.

Mirza Taghi Khan Farahani (later entitled to Amir Kabir) who was close to Agha Mehdi was the chief steward of Naser al-Din Mirza the Prince. After Mohammad Shah Qajar died, Mirza Taghi Khan borrowed some 100 thousand Tomans from Agha Mehdi in order to bring the Prince to Tehran to be seated on the throne. Agha Mehdi also moved to Tehran and was entitled to “Malik al-Tojjar” by Naser al-Din Shah and after his death, Mohammad Kazem, his son, inherited the title. Like his father, Mohammad Kazem became involved in both commercial and political activities.
Although young Hossein was not allowed to go to modern schools, as his father thought their teachings contradict the religious principles, he went to a French school in secret to learn the French language, where he became a classmate of Mohammad Ali Foroughi.

Mohammad Kazem Malek al-Tojjar was a successful wealthy merchant and left a considerable heritage for his children and that is where Haj Hossein Agha’s properties originally come from.

At the age of 28, when Haj Hossein accompanied his father on a trip to Khorasan to manage their estate, he saw a manuscript and some treasures of Astan Quds Razavi and became interested in collecting manuscripts. This interest led to the creation of an incredible collection of manuscripts and printed books.

Consequently, he founded his own library in 1908 in Mashhad and after his father passed away the library was moved to his father’s house in Tehran. Haj Hossein donated this house containing precious treasures to Astan Quds Razavi on October 28, 1937. This collection consists of thousands of manuscripts, printed books, and lithograph manuscripts, and artifacts such as calligraphy, miniature, lacquer art, carpets, textiles, furniture, paintings, metalwork, stamps, and coins.

An enormous amount of his agricultural land, property, and wealth was given as “waqf” (religious donation) in 1937 to the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, the Astan Quds Razavi, and in this way, he was entitled to be the greatest philanthropist of contemporary Iran.


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