Why do you travel? What do especially you want? Is it meeting new people or discovering new places, cultures, and traditions. Armenia is the country that will help you find everything you look for. When you visit Armenia it will be a good start at first to discover yourselves its history and culture. And how can you do it? Of course by visiting museums. I want to introduce you to top museums in Yerevan that can open in front of you the whole picture of Armenian long and interesting history and culture.
The History Museum of Armenia
The History Museum of Armenia was founded on 9 September 1919. It was formed using the collections of the Armenian Ethnographical Association of the Caucasus, the Nor Nakhijevan Museum of Armenian Antiquities, the Museum of Antiquities of Ani, and the Vagharshapat Repository of Ancient Manuscripts. The original collection numbered 15,289 objects.
The History Museum of Armenia continually riches its collections with finds from current excavations made at ancient Armenian sites by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography and the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. Other objects are received through purchases and donations. Entering this museum you can also learn a lot of things about cultural relations among ancient Eastern societies like Caucasus, Crete, Egypt, Mitanni, Roman, and Byzantine empire.
Every Armenian knows that Yerevan before was called Erebuni. And if you want to know about the history of Yerevan, you should visit this museum. The Museum was opened in 1968 at the foot of the Arin-Berd hill, which was timed to the 2750th anniversary of the Erebuni city. Above the central entrance of the museum, you can see a huge bas-relief with the image of Argishti I King, who was the founder of the city.
The museum displays almost 1500 exhibits found during excavations of Erebuni fortress in 1950-1959. The museum holds all items and unique artifacts found by archaeologists during the excavations of the ancient city, as well as on the neighboring territory of the city Teyshebaini. To release the museum from the narrow focus, there were collected other historical exhibits from all corners of Armenia.
Armenian Genocide Museum
The complex is on Tsitsernakaberd Hill (Fortress of Swallows) across the Hrazdan Gorge from central Yerevan. This museum represents the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1922. Designed by architects Arthur Tarkhanyan and Sashur Kalashyan working with artist Hovhannes Khachatryan, the two-storey exhibition space is built into the side of the hill so as not to detract from the monument above. The story of this horrific historical event is told through photographs, documents, newspaper reports, and films.
From the museum, a broad pathway flanked by a 100m-long wall engraved with the names of massacred communities leads to the memorial, which was built in 1967. It consists of a 40m-high spire next to a circle of 12 basalt slabs leaning over to guard an eternal flame. The 12 tilted slabs represent the lost provinces of western Armenia, land lost to Turkey. There is a stand of trees planted by foreign leaders who visited the memorial and put flowers around the eternal flame situated at the center of 12 slabs.
The Cafesjian Museum Foundation is an art museum in Yerevan, Armenia which is located at the central Kentron District, in and around the Yerevan Cascade which is a complex of a massive staircase with fountains, ascending up from the Tamanyan Street gardens and pedestrian zone. It was established in 2002 designed by architects Jim Torosyan, Aslan Mkhitaryan, Sargis Gurzadyan. The majority of the museum's collection are derived from the private collection of the founder Gerard L. Cafesjian.
With more than 5,000 works, the center exhibits one of the most comprehensive glass collections in the world, particularly the works of the Czech couple Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, whose collaborative work revolutionized the use of glass as an artistic medium. The collection also has substantial holdings in a drawing, painting, and sculpture by many influential artists including Fernando Botero, Arshile Gorky, Jennifer Bartlett and so on. One of the amazing exhibitions you can see here is Swarovski Crystal Palace chandeliers, which is a revolutionary project that has aimed to create signature interpretations of light and design using the emotive medium of cut crystal.
Whilst celebrating and reinterpreting the rich traditions of the chandelier, Swarovski Crystal Palace has broken barriers, played with the rules and opened a new chapter in the history of lighting, art, and design. Swarovski Crystal Palace has worked with some of the world’s foremost and collectible designers. Center 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.
National Art Gallery
The National Gallery of Armenia was founded in 1921 and represents the artistic section of the State Museum. Upon its establishment, the NGA's art section encountered difficulties, as Yerevan lacked state-owned and private art collections to form the core of the collection.
The first works to enter the collection were the dozens of works purchased from the Armenian painters' exhibition in August 1921. The picture gallery's large collection of works is on display thanks to the efforts of many dedicated compatriots and friendly donations from foreign associates. The NGA currently has around 26,000 works of art, many of which are permanently displayed in the museum's 56 galleries and halls.
Charles Aznavour House Museum
If you finish your walking and examining the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden in Cascade, don’t forget to climb up the stairs to the end and visit the world-famous chansonnier, pride of Armenian nation -Charles Aznavour’s House- Museum. How it excels and differ from other museums is that the building itself is not a traditional museum complex, but it is a residence with dwelling and working rooms as well as with multifunctional cultural areas. The residence is situated in the heart of Yerevan. The museum occupies 1700 square with a five-storey building near Cascade and includes an open-air concert hall, as well as Aznavour`s apartment and the museum itself. The exhibition includes Aznavour's discs, albums, books, music awards, posters, and photographs.
Two lower floors of the building are the exhibition chambers where the visitors can see the portraits of the famous singer. Most of the exhibits are disposed to the museum by Charles Aznavour. In one of the halls of the ground floor, you can see a beautiful Armenian Taraz which is considered to be the dress of grandmother of the famous chansonnier. The other floors include the dwelling rooms, where you can find the personal belongings of Aznavour and exclusive samples brought from his personal library in Paris such as fiction, maps, golden discs, and cassettes. The building has 2 open-air staircases that serve as an amphitheater for open-air concerts. Besides, the translucent arches of all four-storey building face to Cascade Complex and give us the opportunity to admire the beautiful view of the city from inside.
There are a lot of interesting museums in Yerevan such as Mesrop Mashtots Museum-Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, Sergei Parajanov Museum, House-Museum of Yeghishe Charents, House-Museum of Aram Khachaturian and so on.
If you like to drink, you can visit the Yerevan Ararat Brandy factory which is also reminiscent of a museum. you can also try the assortment there and buy your favorite drink.
Thus, this pink city is called “The museum under the open air”. Why? I am sure when you visit Yerevan you will find out the answer to your question.
Published March 19, 2018
Article by Melanya Kirakosyan