Must Visit Museums of Yerevan: Explore the Rich Cultural Heritage
Yerevan’s museum landscape is a captivating tapestry of history, art, and culture waiting to be explored. From the Matenadaran archive of ancient manuscripts to the Mergerian Carpet Museum to the poignant Armenian Genocide Museum, cultural institutions offer an immersive journey through the heart and soul of our remarkable nation. Here’s a list of the top ten must-visit museums near the capital.
Matenadaran (Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts)
The Matenadaran is a treasure trove of culture and history, boasting the world's most extensive collection of Armenian manuscripts. The museum's exhibits include beautifully illuminated Bibles which still retain their vibrant hues from natural dyes, early printed manuscripts, and ancient maps and medical books. It pays homage to the inventor of the Armenian alphabet, Mesrop Mashtots, and offers a glimpse into Armenia's rich literary heritage.
Megerian Carpet Museum
Carpets and rugs have been produced for centuries in Armenia. Used for floors and walls, for decoration and warmth, the tradition is woven into Armenian history and culture. While you can observe stunning specimens in local markets like Vernissage and at many museums, the most extensive collection can be found at Megerian Carpet Museum. There, you can take a tour to explore the rich tradition of weaving, learn about looms, pigments and wool, and admire antique rugs dating back centuries. Best of all, you can even buy a carpet and take a piece of history home with you.
History Museum of Armenia
This comprehensive museum covers the entire spectrum of Armenian history, from prehistoric times to the modern era. The collection includes archaeological artefacts, historical documents, and ethnographic displays that illustrate the country's diverse heritage. Visitors can trace the development of Armenian culture and society through the ages. The National Gallery of Armenia is located within the same building and offers permanent art exhibitions as well as rotating collections.
Dedicated to the renowned 19th century composer and musicologist Komitas Vardapet, this museum celebrates his life and contributions to Armenian music. It houses personal belongings, manuscripts, and recordings, shedding light on the profound influence Komitas had on Armenian classical and folk music. The museum also organises concerts and events that honour his legacy.
Armenian Museum of Modern Art
For those interested in contemporary art, this museum showcases a diverse range of 20th and 21st-century Armenian artworks. It features paintings, sculptures, and installations by prominent Armenian artists, highlighting the evolution of Armenian art in the modern era. The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art from around the world.
Museum of Folk Art
The Museum of Folk Art is a window into the traditional culture of Armenia. It displays a rich collection of folk crafts, including carpets, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, “taraz” or traditional dress, and musical instruments. Visitors can appreciate the skills and creativity of Armenian artisans through the exhibits.
Situated at the site of the ancient Urartian fortress of Erebuni, this museum explores the history of Yerevan, one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. The Erebuni fortress and town was built in 782 BC, by Argishti I, the king of Urartu. It would become the foundation of Yerevan. In October 2018, Armenia celebrated the 2800th anniversary of Erebuni-Yerevan. The museum complex features artefacts from the fortress's excavations, offering a glimpse into the daily life of its inhabitants.
The Armenian Genocide Museum
This memorial honors the 1.5 million lives lost in the Armenian Genocide, which was carried out by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1923. Inside the museum, visitors can explore the permanent exhibition, which features photographs, documents, and personal testimonies that provide a comprehensive and moving look at the tragic events of the genocide. The complex includes an impressive central spire with an eternal flame, which symbolises the rebirth of the Armenian people. The museum's mission is not only to educate but also to honour the memory of the victims and survivors of this dark chapter in Armenian history. On the grounds, you will find many evergreen trees donated by governments of other countries, community groups, families, survivors and other individuals in memory of the lives lost.
Yerevan History Museum
As you ascend the three floors of the Yerevan History Museum (which shares a building with the city hall), you’ll learn more about each era that shaped Armenia’s capital, from the prehistoric period to the modern day. Explore hands-on exhibits, artwork, pottery, audiovisual displays and more about this exceptional city, which is more than 2800 years old!
Lusik Aguletsi House-Museum
Ethnographer Lusik Aguletsi was best known for proudly wearing the “taraz,” or traditional Armenian dress, around Yerevan, well into the late 20th century when it had already come out of fashion. At her house-museum, you can step into the living canvas of Aguletsi's world, where creativity blossoms in every corner. The space pays homage to her artistic spirit, offering a glimpse into her life and legacy through her self-designed outfits as well as her collection of rugs, jewellery and more.
Sergey Parajanov Museum
Dedicated to preserving the famous filmmaker's avant-garde legacy, this museum showcases an extensive array of his distinctive works. Visitors are treated to an immersive experience of Parajanov's imaginative brilliance, with exhibits ranging from intricate collages and assemblages to his iconic filmography. The museum's curated spaces provide an intimate understanding of Parajanov's unconventional artistic language, depicting his struggles against Soviet censorship.
Mother Armenia Military Museum
Stand under the formidable statue of Mother Armenia or “Mayr Hayastan” and admire the beautiful view of Yerevan below. The memorial is a tribute to the courage and sacrifice of Armenia's armed forces, weaving tales of heroism and resilience into a compelling narrative of the country's military history. The museum is housed in the base of the monument.
House-Museum of Yervand Kochar
Venture into the avant-garde sanctuary of the 20th century painter-sculptor Yervand Kochar, where art breaks free from conventions. This house-museum is a testament to Kochar's innovative spirit, showcasing a collection that transcends traditional boundaries and invites visitors to witness the world through the eyes of a visionary artist.
House-Museum of Martiros Saryan
Once the home of the renowned painter, this museum houses two floors of Saryan’s smaller paintings (most of the more famous ones are housed in the national gallery on Republic Square) as well as rooms preserved from the time period in which he lived. Saryan mastered the vibrant colours of the Armenian landscape in a truly distinctive way that has captivated art enthusiasts for decades.
These museums collectively offer a captivating journey through Armenia's cultural, historical, and artistic heritage. They serve as repositories of the nation's past and reflect the resilience and creativity of the Armenian people. Each museum provides a unique perspective on different aspects of Armenian history and culture, making them essential destinations for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of this fascinating country.
Published on December 18, 2023