Georgian Museums

by Tamar Esakia

Besides banking and financial operations, TBC, Georgia’s second largest bank, is known for supporting and implementing various social and cultural projects.

In 2019, the Georgian National Museum and TBC, after a series of successful joint projects, set the stage for a large-scale, long-term cooperation.

The National Museum and TBC are implementing innovative projects based on modern technology in an attempt to promote the national treasures preserved in the museum.

The Georgian National Museum brings together 10 museums throughout the country, as well as the National Gallery, 4 historic house museums, and 2 scientific research centers.

Ioseb Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum – Karvasla

The beauty of the Tbilisi History Museum, above all else, lies in its historic building. It is a former karvasla, or caravanserai, a multifunctional facility which included a hotel during the medieval period. As you enter, you immediately find yourself in an enormous courtyard surrounded by tiers of rooms and open galleries and corridors. The basement was reserved for warehouses, the first floor for clothing and footwear workshops, the second floor featured 25 shops selling European and Asian goods, and the upper floor was occupied by a 33-room hotel.

The current structure was built in the early 19th century, though its foundation, with finely laid outer arches, is much older. The truth is that an earlier caravanserai was built here in 1650 which was demolished along with many other buildings in Tbilisi during the devastating invasion led by Agha Mohammad Khan in 1795. A new building was later constructed on the foundation of the

old one, practically repeating the latter’s configurations. The façade facing the riverbank is dated to 1820 and represents an example of Russian Classicism. The façade facing the Sioni Cathedral is from a later period, 1912, and features some of the characteristics of Modernism.

The Tbilisi History Museum has occupied the building since 1985, though the museum itself was established much earlier in 1910. Over the years, its archives have accumulated in excess of 60,000 exhibits, which enable you to familiarize yourself with the city’s life, culture, and history from the first settlement here to this day.

What did Old Tbilisi taverns and workshops look like? What was the tradition of the bathhouse about? How did different social stations dress? What was the first public transport in Tbilisi? What were Old Tbilisi landmarks? What was the Old Tbilisi living room like? The museum preserves archeological, ethnological, and documentary materials, examples of folklore and applied arts, and a rich collection of photos poised to bring the history of Tbilisi to life right before your eyes. Along with the past, the Tbilisi History Museum also displays the city’s modern life, with its numerous exhibition halls hosting frequent shows by Georgian and foreign artists.

8 Sioni Street, Tbilisi Tel: 32 298 22 81. Working days: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays and official holidays. You can buy tickets on the spot or online at biletebi.ge. Tour guide services are available in Georgian, English, German, and Russian languages.

Ivane Javakhishvili Samtskhe–Javakheti History Museum

Samtskhe-Javakheti is a historical province in Southern Georgia, a region rich in natural, architectural, and cultural monuments. The museum was founded in 1930 as a museum/archive. The museum’s exhibition halls occupy the Palace of the Jakeli family, an ancient noble family based within the territory of Akhaltsikhe Castle. Fundamentally rehabilitated in 2011-2012, this castle was, for centuries, the main fortification in the region, and it is a complex incorporating several defensive facilities from different periods.

The museum showcases the region’s archeological, paleographic, paleontological, numismatic, narrative, and architectural materials describing the life and activities of the region’s population in the past, a continuous history since ancient times through the 20th century. The exhibition reveals cultural characteristics, religious rituals, pagan customs, Christian traditions, well-developed medieval architecture, and flourishing literature.

A special place in the museum’s collection is held by Georgian lapidary pieces and exhibitions of traditional rugs and tapestries. The museum’s collections bring together more than 25,000 items.

The museum’s exposition feauters brand new, impressive outward characteristics, such as stone and brick walls, alternating arches and columns, and solid, massive architectural forms, glass corbels, wooden and metal stands for exhibits, unpretentious minimalistic forms, and lighting perfectly underlining the exhibits – everything here serves the purpose of creating an ideal exhibition space.

1 Petre Kharischirashvili Street, Akhaltsikhe Castle, Akhaltsikhe Tel: 32 299 71 76 info@museum.ge Working days: Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 AM to 6 PM Closed on Mondays and official holidays You can buy tickets on the spot or online at biletebi.ge  Tour guide services are available in Georgian, English, German, Russian, Turkish, and French languages.

Sighnaghi Museum of History and Ethnography

If you decide to visit Kakheti, the easternmost region of Georgia, Sighnaghi is your must-see destination. This city will enchant you both with its architecture and unique location. Built on a high hill, the city overlooks the Alazani Valley and offers unforgettable views of the Caucasus Mountains. The locals pride themselves on one particular historical fact, namely the absence of feudal lord-vassal relations during the Middle Ages. This region was directly under the king’s jurisdiction, subordinated only to him. You can learn about this and many other facts and stories in detail if you visit the Sighnaghi Museum of History and Ethnography.

The archeological collection showcases a large bulk of the materials discovered during archeological digs across the territory of Kakheti.

The museum’s medieval exposition will tell you the story of life in Kakheti’s ancient cities since the 5th through 18th centuries. Nearby is the unique Davit Gareji Monastic Complex with its mesmerizing archeological materials on display.

The museum’s ethnographic collection was procured with support from the Ministry of Culture, and enriched with items donated by the population, bringing together a total of 5,000 exhibits, including textile goods, copper and wooden kitchen and tableware, agricultural implements, materials pertaining to viniculture, excellent jewelry, tools used in a variety of trades, musical instruments, and many others.

The numismatic collection consists of 2,000 exhibits, with unique coins minted by Sassanid and Georgian rulers.

The collection of paintings by brilliant artist Niko Pirosmani, who was born in these parts, is one of the pearls of the museum. Some 20 kilometers from the museum, in the village of Mirzaani, you can also visit Niko Pirosmani’s Historic House Museum.

In 1967, an art gallery opened at the museum. Several times a year the Sighnaghi museum hosts exhibitions of international artworks and showpieces from the collections of the Georgian National Museum. After becoming part of the Georgian National Museum, the building of the Sighnaghi Museum was fundamentally renovated, with security systems installed, new expositions put in place, and the museum’s funds replenished and enriched to make up an excess of 60,000 exhibits today.

8 Shota Rustaveli Cul-de-Sac, Sighnaghi. Tel: 32 23 24 48. Working days: Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Mondays and official holidays. You can buy tickets on the spot or online at biletebi.ge

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