Must-visit museums of Armenia
ARTS & CULTURE

Must-visit museums of Armenia

There are more than 140 museums of different subjects and sizes in Armenia. Regional Post selected 12 of them, that should definitely be in your must-visit list.

Text : Margarita Mirzoyan

 

 

National Art Gallery / History Museum of Armenia

Republic Square, Hanrapetutyan Sq., 4 Building, Yerevan Armenia

The most recognizable building in the Republic Square hosts two quite prominent museums; National Art Gallery and History Museum of Armenia. Previously, the building hosted a public library and a concert hall. It also served as a shelter for the orphans who were forced to escape Western Armenia in the period of Armenian Genocide.

The National Art Gallery is among the largest museums in the Caucasus, established back in 1921 by order of the Soviet Armenian Government, as an Art Department (one of the five departments) of the State Museum. The first director of the museum was world famous Armenian painter Martiros Saryan. The gallery has fifty-six halls, exhibiting a large number of artworks by Armenian, Russian and European artists. The works of Aivazovsky, Sureniants, Saryan, Chagall Donatello, Rodin, Kandinsky, and Serov are presented in the numerous halls of the museum, providing an insight to the history of decorative applied art and national fine art from ancient times till present moment.

National Art Gallery / History Museum of Armenia  National Art Gallery / History Museum of Armenia

On the two lower floors of the building, the Historical Museum of Armenia is located. The museum presents objects of material culture, found on the territory of Armenia and relating to periods from the Stone Age to the end of the XIX century. The museum was established in 1920 based on the collections of Armenian Ethnographical Association of the Caucasus, the Ejmiatsin Matenadaran, the Nor Nakhijevan Museum of Armenian Antiquities, the Museum of Antiquities of Ani, and the Vagharshapat Repository of Ancient Manuscripts.

The Museum exhibits over 400,000 items of national heritage from the spheres of archeology, ethnography, numismatics. Originally named the Ethnographic-Anthropological Museum-Library, the History Museum continuously replenishes its collections via purchases and findings in ancient settlements in the territory of Armenia.

 

Sergey Paradjanov Museum

Dzoragyugh 1st St, Yerevan, Armenia

A cozy old-Yerevan style house in the heart of the city is home to the Sergey Paradjanov’s Museum since 1988. “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors”, “The Color of Pomegranate” (“Sayat-Nova”), “The Legend of Suramskaya Fortress”, and “Ashik-Kerib”. These are the masterpiece films which brought worldwide fame to Sergey Paradzhanov (Sargis Paradzhanyants, 1924-1990). His applied art compositions are another dimension of his self-expression on the motives of Armenian, Oriental and European Art.

Assemblages, flat and volumetric collages, drawings, dolls, sketches for films, all these items are stored at his house-museum in Yerevan. A part of them was created while the artist was in prison, suspended from making films for over 15 years.

Sergey Paradjanov Museum

The unique collection manages to convey Parajanov's original character, talent and humor while illustrating the difficulties faced by artists, filmmakers, and writers living under the Soviet regime. Parajanov himself showed the other side of Armenian culture and his house-museum embodies him and his vision quite perfectly. More than 600 works by S. Paradzhanov, as well as his personal belongings and furniture from his Tbilisi house are presented in the museum. The gallery also holds numerous letters and writing of the artists as well as letters by A. Tarkovsky, L. Brik, Y. Nikulin, V. Katanyan and other cultural figures.

The museum uses artistic and exhibition principles of S. Parajanov himself thus clearly conveys they spirit and character of the later. For 27 years, the museum organized 64 exhibitions in 30 countries, keeping the the name of the artist vocal around the globe.

 

Martiros Saryan House - Museum

Saryan 3 street, Yerevan Armenia

The house-museum of famous Armenian painter Martiros Saryan is another key spot in the Yerevan. The museum was established in 1967 during life of the artist by the order of the Armenian government. The author lived and worked in this mansion from 1932 to 1972. During that period three storey gallery was designed by Mark Grigorian near his house and the museum was created. The house of the artist is one of the projects of Alexander Tamanian, an eminent Armenian architect, and resembles the initial style of “Yerevanian” architecture.

The permanent exposition located on the three floors has over 300 works and leads the visitor from the early years of the author to his last days in chronological order. The collection also includes famous works from Saryan family collection. The artist’s studio, where the author worked up to his last days is open for the visitors as well.

During the years of its existence, the museum was supervised by many prominent artists. From 2004, the director of the museum is the Saryan’s granddaughter Rouzan Saryan. The exposition represents the variations of Saryan’s art, the mastery of bright and colorful landscape, unique portraits, the portrayal of festive life, book illustrations, and theatrical-decorative paintings. The core of the museum’s collections are the 50 works which the author donated to the gallery.

Today, the museum has quite progressive objectives, such as creating a digital database of the author’s works and spreading the words about him all around the world. There are many memoirs and letters stored in the museum that were recently exposed to the press. The museum also organizes educational events and chamber music concerts for school children, youth and elderly people to get them acquainted with the colorful world and vision of Martiros Saryan.

 

Matenadaran Museum - Institute

53 Mashtots Avenue, Yerevan

The house of the ancient manuscripts, Matenadaran was established in 1959. The Edjmiatsin’s Monastery manuscripts have become the basis of the collection of the center. The oldest specimen, related to the invention of Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots, dates back to the 5 AD.

The Museum – Institute exhibits numerous samples of old Armenian writings and miniatures, around 23,000 manuscripts, documentaries, antique books, precious compositions from all around the world. There are also works of ancient and medieval Armenian historians, writers, philosophers, mathematicians, geographers, doctors. More than 2000 documents from the assemblage are in Russian, Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, Syrian, aGreek, Japanese, Persian, and other languages. Some of these documents aren’t preserved in their original language but the Armenian translations are kept in the collection.

Matenadaran Museum - Institute

The Matenadaran collection is a valuable scientific and historical base for studying the history and culture of Armenia, as well as the neighboring nations in the Caucasus and elsewhere. Initially, Matenadaran had only one hall, but currently, there are over 15 halls separated thematically. There’s a hall dedicated to Artsakh’s manuscripts, Nor Jugha writings, eastern manuscripts, medieval medicine, ancient maps, and archive documents. The center also has the so-called virtual hall, where films and images related to the manuscripts are presented continuously.

In 2010, the second building was constructed, where the scientific departments were moved, and the main building was mainly allocated to the exhibition halls, as well as the offices, labs and strategic libraries. The building itself has the spirit of traditional Armenian architecture of the XII-XIII centuries. In front of the building, there is a monument to Mesrop Mashtots – the founder of the Armenian alphabet, as well as other prominent thinkers of ancient Armenia, such as Movses Khorenatsi, Anania Shirakatsi, Mkhitar Gosh, Toros Roslin, Frick, Grigor Tatevatsi.

 

The Gallery of Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan systers

242 Abovyan St, Gyumri

The Museum of Aslamazyan sisters was established in 1987 when Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan’s decided to present around 620 of their original works to their hometown Gyumri. Located in the center of the city, today, the gallery is an art museum which exhibits paintings, graphics, and ceramics created by the Aslamazyan sisters. After the Gyumri Earthquake in 1988, the gallery building, served as a shelter for the homeless people and only got reopened in 2004.

The gallery is old Gyumri-styled two-story building. The works of Yeranuhi Aslamazyan are exhibited on the first floor, and the works of Mariam Aslamazyan on the second one.

Yeranuhi and Mariam, who received their education in Leningrad Institute of Arts were not only artists but also active public figures. During the Great Patriotic War, Yeranuhi Aslamazyan actively worked to provide people with responsive art to distract them from the horrors of those times. Today, some of her works are displayed in the State Tretyakov Gallery. Mariam, on her turn, was highly appreciated not only for her paintings but for the unique ceramic plates in colorful and warm themes. Some works of Mariam Aslamazyan are also in the State Tretyakov Gallery, including “Armenian Still Life” and “Red Cactus Flower”.

The Gallery of Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan systers

What’s interesting is that one can see and feel literally everything in her works, Armenian motives but at the same time African elements. Both sister’s traveled the world and expressed everything they’ve witnessed in their art and brought it to the city of Gyumri.

The Aslamazyan sisters, their works and the establishment of a separate museum was a key point which changed the attitude towards gender equality in that period in Armenia, distinguishing the critical role of female artists of that epoch. The visitors and locals consider the museum as the most colorful one in the city.

 

Dzitoghyan Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life

Haghtanak 47, Gyumri

The stylish red tuff house with a massive wooden veranda of Dzitoghtsyan family was built in 1872 by four brothers who migrated from the Western Armenian village of Dzitogh to the city of Alexandropol, today’s Gyumri. Even though the locals call it Dzitoghcoc House, the only connection with the Dzitoghtsyan family that remained is the building, an old image of Petros Dzitoghsyan and his wife, who actually owned the mansion, and the photo album which belonged to their daughter.

The Dzitoghtsyan family, established in the early 19th century has quickly become the visit card of Gyumri. The museum exhibits various items and elements of the daily urban life of Gyumri, as well as conveys the overall local cultural, religious and architectural peculiarities of the city, from the 19th century up to the 1920s. During the Soviet era, the Dzitoghtsyan family mansion was the only museum to present the daily life of the cities in the union.

Dzitoghyan Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life

During the Gyumri Earthquake in 1988, the museum was inhabited by the locals however, never stopped its operation. In that times of hardship visiting exhibitions took place at the free rooms of the building, which helped to activate the social and cultural life a little bit. The museum was officially reopened in 1997 and actively operated since then.

Besides the old style items exhibited in the halls, there’s a 3D “map” portrayal of the actual Gyumri in 1880, implemented in old-fashioned style showing the everyday life and people living in the city. The curators restored the the typical house interiors of old Gyumri and presented the arts and crafts of the city hundred years ago.

 

Sergey Merkurov’s House-Museum

47 Haghtanak str., Gyumri

The house of famous sculptor Sergei Merkurov is another exciting sight when visiting Gyumri.

The prominent artists well known to the world for his sculptures and masks, captured many famous soviet figures and is an author to around 300 masks. He turned the techniques of creating death masks into a high art.

The masks of 59 politicians and public figures are exhibited in the museum, including the original death mask of Lenin. His artworks traveled around the globe and were exhibited in New York, Paris, Moscow and elsewhere. The author lived in many countries and sharpened his skills in the studio of famous sculptor Adolf Meyer, who later on suggested him to continue his education in Europe.

Sergey Merkurov’s House-Museum

Merkurov was born in Gyumri and had a Greek-Armenian origin. Later on he lived for several years in Tbilisi, and continued his education, learning the art of sculpture in Ukraine, Germany and Switzerland. During his exceptional lifetime, the artist got acquainted with Soviet leaders and many prominent artists around the globe. In the period of his stay in Paris, Merkurov got acquainted with such as famous sculptors as Rodin and Meunier.

The Merkurov’s house-museum was established in Gyumri in 1984 in his family’s residency. In addition to the unprecedented collection and internal design, the house and its surroundings have a very spectacular interior.

Before his death, Merkurov gifted the house to the city, with only one precondition, that the house will serve to the art purposes. The home was damaged during the 1988 earthquake but was rebuilt in 2003.

 

Vanadzor Museum of Fine Arts

52 Tigran Mets Ave, Vanadzor

Vanadzor Museum of Fine Arts (complete name, Vanadzor City Museum of Fine Arts after Carlos Abovyan) was founded in 1974 as a branch of the National Gallery of Armenia and was rebuilt as an independent museum in 1979. The museum is situated in the “heart” of Lori, thus represents one of the most important cultural bodies in the region.

The first collection of the museum has been formed from the works of the National Gallery and mainly displayed Armenian art of the 20th century. However, during the following years, the collection was replenished with the works of contemporary artists. Currently, the museum mainly presents paintings, graphics, sculptures, decorative and applied art samples.

Vanadzor Museum of Fine Arts

Located on the road to such popular sights as the Haghpat and Sanain monastries, Vanadzor Museum of Fine Arts museum is considered as one of the most prominent cultural centers in Lori. The museum the exhibits around 2,000 collections of paintings, sculptures, publications and other pieces of decorative art created by many Russian, European and Armenian, especially Lori artists.

The visitors can get familiarized with various works of Armenian culture and art, including landscape paintings, works of female artists, portraits of remarkable Armenians and other exhibits representing the Armenian history. Every year more than ten special exhibitions and more than twenty public events are organized in the museum.

 

Jermuk Gallery of Waters

Jermuk 3701

The Waters Gallery in Jermuk doesn’t fit into the classic idea behind the words museum, however, the “exhibits” presented in the gallery illustrate the culturally and socially important aspects of Jermuk city.

The museum itself represents several pipes, coming out from the walls. The well-known fresh and mineral waters flow from them into special stone urns. The water temperature for each tube is different, and it’s engraved at the corresponding wall so that the visitors know what type of water they are drinking and what’s its temperature.

Jermuk Gallery of Waters

There are around five types of mineral water exhibited in the gallery, and each one has a different temperature from 30 to 53 degrees – the farther from the source, the colder is the water. Mineral waters in Jermuk are known to the world as healing and able to cure serious diseases.

The gallery area is very similar to the ancient Greek structures – arches, columns, water flowing from the taps in the huge jugs. All these creates a small antique mood in Jermuk. The spot of all these “water” exponents, Jermuk Water gallery remains one of the central sightseeing location and the most popular place among the tourists.

 

The Geological Museum and Art Gallery of Dilijan

28 Myasnikyan St, Dilijan

The Regional Museum and Art Gallery is a monument of local history and art in Dilijan, Armenia. The museum was opened in 1950 by a teacher Yeghishe Hovsepyan. It provides a comprehensive view of the history of Dilijan, the historical development of the local people, their lifestyle, culture monuments, and historical and geographical conditions.

The art gallery was established in 1958. Initially, all the items were collected in the town library. The former building of the museum was built in 1926 as a hotel, later was used as a hospital and afterward again was turned into a hotel. However, the building underwent reconstruction to host the Geological Museum and Art Gallery of Dilijan. The old building of the museum was demolished, and during five years, the new building of the museum was built. The official opening of the whole museum was held only in 2010.

The Geological Museum and Art Gallery of Dilijan

Around 5000 archeological, ethnographic and artistic exhibits are kept in Dilijan's Geological Museum-Gallery. Around 700 applied art pieces and graphic works, various painting, sculptures, silver pieces, coins, and ancient literature pieces. There are also rare paintings in the museum of such artists as Hovhannes Aivazovsky (“Christ with His Pupils at Sea” and “Hurricane in the Sea”), Vardges Surenyants, Panos Terlemezian, Martiros Saryan, Roquel Kent, Eduard Shahin, Lagorio and Groziz, as well as paintings by European painters of the 16th and 18th centuries.

Of particular interest are the items at the archeology section, found near the town of Dilijan and belonging to the late Bronze and early Iron ages. The variety of exhibits in the museum creates an authentic mood in the center of Dilijan.

 

Ejmiacin Gandzatun

Mother See of Holy Ejmiadzin

The religious center of Armenia, Ejmiatsin, is known to the world not only for its numerous churches but also Treasury Museum after Alec and Marie Manoogian, opened in 1982.

The museum was brought to life by the initiative of Catholicos of All Armenians Vazgen I and the philanthropist A. Manoukian. In this two-story structure, there are not only the museum samples of the Armenian Church but also the library of Garegin I Catholicos. The museum is a striking example of the classic Armenian architecture’s novel and unique lines. The architect is Baghdasar Arzumanyan.

Ejmiacin Gandzatun Ejmiacin Gandzatun

The samples exhibited in the Treasury have been brought to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin from different Armenian communities, including a wide geographical area. In the treasury, there are many valuable items: church and sanctuary samples, cups, altar curtains, relics, dresses, chandeliers, crosses, antique Armenian carpets, clay vessels, and wooden engravings.

The most valuable exhibits of the treasury are the manuscripts with their unique miniatures and delicately embroidered covers. Here is also the collection of paintings with the image of St. Mariam, which has been created in different periods in historical Armenia.

 

Genocide Museum-Institute

The Armenian Genocide Museum was established in 1995, 80 years after the tragic event which changed the direction of Armenian history. The museum is located on a hill, with its main exhibition area under the ground which is associated with a burial place and draws direct connection with the consequences of Armenian Genocide. The roof of the building provides a beautiful view of the Ararat valley and Yerevan city as the embodiments of the bright future of the Armenian nation.

The museum exhibits the history of Armenian Genocide presenting documents, books, pictures related to the matter. The items and pieces are presented in various formats, both print and multimedia versions.

 Genocide Museum-InstituteGenocide Museum-Institute

On the 12 walls of the inner courtyard the words of Henry Morgenthau, Anatol Franc, Fridtjof Nansen, Jak de Morgan, Valery Bryusov, Fayez El Ghuseyn are engraved about the horrors faced by the Armenian people. The 45-meter square map of Western Armenia is located on one of the walls, where the places of massacres and deportations are marked.

The content of the museum exhibits, textbooks and explanations are based on scientific progress in recent years in the field of genocide science particularly in Armenia. The staff of the Museum Institute compiled all the findings in Armenian, English and Russian languages, which makes it widely accessible for all the visitors.

Genocide Museum-Institute

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