Night at the museum



Night at the museum

Every year, on one of the days in May, tens of thousands of Armenians spend the day in museums till late at night. And, for the workers of the museums, it's probably the most loaded day of the year. This year, on the following day of this international event, we visited several museums to talk with the security guards about the usual, not crowded days.

Text and Photo : Biaina Mahari, First published in “Yerevan” city magazine #26, 2014

Cover photo : Avetik Isahakyan House Museum



Geological Museum | Martin

I’d been working at the geological institute since 1981, and several years ago I moved here, to the museum. The nights are quiet, the museum is very interesting… It houses such lovely stones, even a meteorite. There’s even a mammoth, a mamonth’s puppy to be exact, a Leninakantsi: it was found in Gyumri. They say it was 4-5 years old.

Geological Museum 


Yervand Kochar museum | Administration

Since 1998, we have no security guards. We’ve taken up new technologies and at night the museum’s left all alone with the security system.

Yervand Kochar museum


The Sergei Parajanov House Museum | Babken

I wouldn’t say it’s an exciting job: you’re on your own the whole night, not a single bud to talk to. Also, I don’t have any favorite exhibit in the museum, I don’t much understand Parajanov’s works…

It seems like it must be really scary here at night, and in fact, at the beginning, there were so many different noises the whole night – banging, crashing, dripping… I was thinking, “Who’s there? What are they doing?” Then, little by little I got used to them, I learnt where they came from, and I got over the fright. All in all, nights are normally quiet.

Couples often come to that small street in front of us, and in the summers, it turns into a lovers’ street. Soon, as days get warmer, they’ll be there. Also, we have an orchard. That’s a pity our apricot tree may not yield this year. Its apricot’s very tasty; the cherry tree may, but not the apricot tree, for sure.

Sergei Parajanov House Museum


The Hovhannes Tumanyan House Museum | Sergei

I’ve been working here since 1981. I quit in 1985, but in 1993 was called back. In the 1980s, Tumanyan’s daughter was still living here with her family, in the two rooms over there which were closed to visitors. They always invited me to tea at 7. Very interesting people came to visit them, artists, architects, painters ... They were talking, and I was sitting quietly and listening. They said, “There can’t be a New Year without you”, and we always met the New Year together. But, to be honest, even though I’ve been working here for so many years, I’m not properly familiar with the exhibits. In the museum I love my room best. Nothing’s better.

Hovhannes Tumanyan House Museum


The Museum of Contemporary Art | Sergei

Our place is a bit like a hole in the wall, there are constant fights around us and we’re always worried someone’s gonna break a window. Also, the neighbors above us constantly leak water, so we always walk around at night, so we can protect the pictures in case they suddenly leak water again.

It was at the beginning that I was very excited, I was walking around, looking at the pictures. Now, I’ve seen a lot and already know all of them. I love Hakob Hakobyan’s paintings, Minas’, and Elibekyan’s.

Museum of Contemporary Art


The Avetik Isahakyan House Museum | Gnush

It’s been 15 years since I’ve worked here as a security guard. The nights are quiet. My mother-in-law lives two houses away from here, so everybody here knows me. My favorite place in the museum is the garden. It’s very nice, and the air is clean... It’s a pity that this year the whole crop and the flowers were lost because of the heavy snow. Last year, there were so many cherries the workers were taking home in buckets, but this year, even the lilac didn’t bloom...

It’s so good being alone here at night: you can think in the quiet and eat or watch TV whenever you wish. You’re the boss of your own head and day... Rather night, not day.