It was hot here in Yerevan. Make that hot and sunny. I am a bit of a delicate flower and find constant sun a bit difficult to handle. So on these days I do what any cloud loving gal does when the sun is too much; I head indoors.
I knew I wanted to go to the Modern Art Museum in Yerevan as soon as I saw it listed on my perusal of Google Maps. I did a bit of looking and it seemed interesting enough and with a scant 500 Armenian Dram entry fee (roughly $1 USD) what did we have to lose? So we headed over to the museum to get ourselves out of the sun and heat of the day.
We didn't have a difficult time getting to the building or knowing where exactly it was, but we did have a bit of a time finding the entrance. This was as much due to the fact that we were sort of incredulous at thinking the Modern Art Museum could really just be in the bottom of an apartment building or that it could be the slightly derelict non-descript building that makes you think it was once a series of convenience stores. Apparently, I have a bias about what my art museums are going to look like. We headed on toward the apartment building and saw a myriad of signs. Finally, we saw an open door and thought, well, this must be it. And indeed it was!
We paid our 500 dram each and an additional 500 dram for the right to take photos and in we went. This is a no fuss sort of space. There's no bookstore to speak of, no fancy signage, just the art works on the walls and statues here and there. But wow, the work was incredible. What this collection lacks in size or flash it makes up for in quality.
The collection focuses mainly on Armenian artists though the copy about the museum states they have become the benefactors of artist's from other parts of the world as well. Most of the work seems to be from the early times of the museum which was (surprisingly) during the Soviet era. Since there was no government funding for such an art museum during those times, the collection was donated by a prominent art critic and then sustained through private donations. Most of the pieces I loved were from this period as well, though there were a few from more recent years that I liked well enough.
It was great to see such provocative works by Armenian artists. To be frank, I don't know anything about the art scene here in Armenia and had never really given it a whole lot of thought. When we were in Tbilisi, we saw some very recent works by another Armenian artist that just blew us away. Sadly, his work was not on display in the museum, but seeing the mid 20th century pieces on display in the museum provided me with a fantastic artistic continuum from those artists to him. I felt inspired and excited to see such amazing work across time and political changes.
We spent probably 45 minutes with the collection as a whole and then moved on back into the sunny day. The museum does have an exhibition space in the aforementioned "former convenience store" space, but our bad luck struck again and it wasn't open until later this evening. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience in the Modern Art Museum in Yerevan and were really bowled over by the quality and feeling in the work on display. I would definitely recommend spending a bit of your time here if you find yourself in this part of the world.
Here are some of my favorite pieces from the Modern Art Museum in Yerevan. Click the images for full view and artist/title detail. Tell me, which pieces speak to you?