Ten years and counting



Ten years and counting

A decade ago, one of Yerevan’s architectural landmarks, Cascade, finally became something more than just a huge stairway to Zeytoun district. It was renovated and inhabited by the pieces of contemporary art. The initiator of the project was American-Armenian businessman and philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian. It is called Cafesjian Center for the Arts now. Regional Post talked to the Center’s head, Vahagn Marabyan, about the things that have taken place recently, and those that are on their way.

Interview : Diana Martirosyan    Photo : CCA




Mr. Marabyan, ten years: Is it a lot, or is it just the beginning?

Well, during all those ten years, we have organized and hosted 60 exhibitions, 48 educational programs which included 1100 meetings and 52,000 participants, approximately. I think it’s quite a lot, isn’t it? But we are going to host many educational and cultural events, which will increase the number of our activities. So, on one hand it’s a lot, on the other hand it’s just the beginning.


What is happening in the Center right now?

This year, Cafesjian Center for the Arts is celebrating its tenth anniversary, so all the events and exhibitions are likely to be pointing to that event. The year started with a big event dedicated to Hovhannes Tumanyan’s 150 anniversary, during which we handed out special fairy tale books to 62 libraries in the city as a result of our educational program. Also, we opened an exhibition “The History of Cascade” devoted, exclusively, to the prehistory and the background of The Cascade Complex, starting from the 60s.

Besides, we have various musical events, both classical and contemporary, which we organize every week advised by our musical board, public museum days, also a significant cooperation between our Center and other museums in the city, which results in attendance increase. Therefore, the program is quite heavy and eventful, plays a prominent role in the urbanistic and cultural life of Yerevan, and not only.


Why do you think Cafesjian Center for the Arts is so important for Yerevan and Armenia? What makes it special?

It’s because this kind and type of museum is open and attractive for tourists, which makes the space unique not only for the country, but also for the region. Not every capital in the world has three Fernando Botero sculptures in just one garden: in the past years, we had no opportunity to possess or to see international and worldwide modern art pieces in this volume. This kind of experience affects and influences the mode of life of the citizens; the art is out of the box, it’s closer, more accessible. It’s the achievement of the city life to have and present to the world the art pieces of distinguished, remarkable and prominent modern artists, and to keep them in this way. The most popular mention in the international press is the visibility of our Center, it’s openness and hospitality. Tourists need not only the visual part of the museums, they also want to reach its content, and the museums are the exact places and institutions that can show both the ethnic and the cultural side of the country you visit.


Cafesjian Center for the Arts

Cafesjian Center for the Arts

The Cafesjian Center for the Arts is dedicated to bringing the best of contemporary art to Armenia and presenting the best of Armenian culture to the world. Inspired by the vision of its founder, Gerard L. Cafesjian, the Center offers a wide variety of exhibitions, including a selection of important works from the Gerard L. Cafesjian Collection of contemporary art. Having celebrated its grand opening in November 2009, CCA continues to exhibit unique works of modern and contemporary art and offers a diverse program of lectures, films, concerts, and numerous educational initiatives for adults and children. Over one million people have visited the Center annually since its opening.


Museums are also educational places...

It’s true. If years ago there was a stereotype that museums are not linked to schools and we had to connect to the City Hall and various ministries and ask them to inform educational establishments, nowadays the city and regional schools book tours 1-2 months in advance, because it is not possible to organize those tours without booking them and it’s not just us involved, all the museums around the world participate in educational activities. I can officially declare that there’s a change in the situation; museum education is highly appreciated and important both for teachers and students.


What is the biggest problem in this field that needs to be changed in the first place?

Now, we have some brand-style museums, they are popular and well known, but anyway, if we talk about museum sphere in the country, there is a visibility issue. We have many remarkable art pieces we ought to present in a more attractive way, therefore there is plenty of work to be done both for those museums and for the ministries, as well as for other state institutions of the country. There is a need to organize mutual partnerships to present it in the best way for both the citizens of Armenia and the visitors. I know that schools usually organize visits to many house museums of renowned writers, musicians and artists; it’s included in their school program. But this is not enough. Treasures of our local museums are worthy of being presented in a more attractive and well-promoted way, so there is a mutual interest for the museums and the government.



What is going to happen in the Center in the future?

We are rather open to any kind of cooperation, and are very interested in high quality modern art events – the genre is not very essential – even in electronic music events, like the one, we know, is going to be held in the Palace of Versailles. As a museum, our main task is to present modern art events to our Armenian audience.