Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography

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Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography also referred as Art Palace; (Georgian: საქართველოს თეატრის, მუსიკის, კინოსა და ქორეოგრაფიის სახელმწიფო მუზეუმი) is located in Tbilisi, Georgia; Kargareteli Street #6; former Graph Oldenburg's Palace. Museum is open every day, except Monday.

History[edit]

The Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography is an important depository for our cultural objects. The museum is housed in one of the most stunning buildings in Tbilisi. It was designed by a well-known architect of the time, Paul Stern, and is a perfect example of gothic and Islamic architecture. A three-storey tower, high merlons, beautifully decorated cornice, open terrace, and steep roofing combine to give the building an unusual look which is most uncharacteristic of the architectural style of Tbilisi.

Main Entrance of the Museum
Museum Building Today
Tower of Love Today
The Art Palace
Detail of Tower Of Love
Museum Shield
Museum Shield over Doorway
Administrative Part Of The Museum

The history of the construction adds even more charm to the building. In 1882, German Prince Constantine Oldenburg (1850-1906) met a beautiful woman called Agraphina Japaridze in Kutaisi. At the time she was married to Georgian nobleman Dadiani. Prince Oldenburg was so dazzled by her beauty that he decided to ignore her marital status and to confess his love for her. Prince Oldenburg’s confession turned Agraphina Japaridze's head; she quickly forgot her devotion to her husband, and the lovers left Kutaisi and went to settle in Tbilisi. Prince Oldenburg commissioned the building of the beautiful palace for his beloved as a token of his great affection for her. In 1927 the Museum of Theatre, founded by David Arsenishvili (1905-1963)- a famous Georgian public figure (later appointed as the First Director of the Andrei Rublev Museum in Moscow), was moved to the building. To date this is the only museum of its kind in the Caucasus region and it is one that equals the world's leading museums in the wealth of its collection. The museum comprises more than 300,000 objects that provide comprehensive information on the development of Georgian theatre, cinema, circus, folklore, opera, and ballet, as well as providing insight into the lives of eminent figures in respective fields.

Some museum exhibits date back to the classical era: of particular note is the antique mask which was excavated by archeologists in the town of Vani.

The Depository of Manuscripts and Archive Documents contains manuscripts of Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Alexander Kazbegi, Alexander Akhmeteli, Kote Marjanishvili, Pyotr Tchaikokovsky, Feodor Chaliapin, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Kept at the Museum are the personal archives of great Georgian composers Dimitri Arakishvili, Zakaria Paliashvili, Vano Sarajishvili, playwright and founder of modern Georgian theatre Giorgi Eristavi, and film director and screenwriter Mikheil Chiaureli, as well as plays and translations of William Shakespeare into Georgian by Ivane Machabeli.

The Depository of Books contains rare editions from the 17th to 19th centuries. Gramophone records, posters, and theatre and film costumes are also preserved.

The Depository of Photos and Negatives includes unique materials of such prominent films as: Jim Shvante, Mamluk, and Giorgi Saakadze.

The Depository of Fine Arts has a rich collection of 16th- and 17th-century Persian miniatures, 18th-century French engravings, and the best examples of the old style of Tbilisi painting. The museum boasts the paintings and graphics of Léon Bakst, Alexander Benua, Fernand Liege, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani, Peter Otskheli, and Irakli Parjiani.

Structure[edit]

Depository of Sculptures[edit]

The museum houses three paintings by Iakob Nikoladze, a founder of the realistic trend in Georgian sculpture and People’s Artist of the USSR (1876-1951). Nikoladze’s portrait of Vladimir Aleksi - Meskhishvili, a Georgian theatre actor and director (1857-1920), is worthy of note. Nikoladze had to make the bust of Meskhishvili in 1940 to coincide its unveiling with the naming of the Kutaisi State Drama in Meskhishvili's honor.

The museum contains a rich collection of Mikheil Chiaureli’s works, a great Georgian film director and artist (1894-1974) and Iakob Nikoladze’s student. The collection comprises plaster sculptures of Georgian eminent public figures Vano Sarajishvili (1879-1924), Kote Meskhi (1857-1914), Vaso Abashidze (1854-1926) and Valerian Gunia (1862-1938). These works are valuable as they reflect the early and lesser known period of the artist’s activity.

Also worthy of note in the collection are the plaster bas-relief of Georgian director Alexander Takaishvili (1895-1958) by Bidzina Avalishvili (born 1922, Iakob Nikoladze’s student) and the plaster bust of singer Niko Kumsiashvili (1892-1942) by Nikoloz Kandelaki (one of the founders of modern Georgian sculpture, 1889-1970). In commemoration of the tragic death of the famous Georgian actor Giorgi Shavgulidze (1910-1959), his son Nuradin Shavgulidze, a Georgian sculptor and member of the Artists Union of Georgia, made a bronze bust of his father. The sculpture is distinguished by its exquisite style. The Depository of Sculptures also contains a full-face sculpture of Valerian Gunia by Elguja Amashukeli, a famous Georgian sculptor and Laureate of the State Rustaveli Award. The work is notable for its marvelous craftsmanship.

Replicas of some antique sculptures are stored in the Museum, including an exact copy of the marble sculpture of Mithridates VI of Pontus and Eupator Dionysius (132 BC-63 BC) which is similar to the sculpture kept in the Louvre.

Replica of Zeus (statue, photo of)


Depository of Manuscripts and Archive Documents[edit]

Autograph of Ioseb Grishashvili

The depository comprises around 40,000 manuscripts of Georgian writers, public figures and artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. The archive documents are rich and diverse, consisting of private and business correspondence, records, scenarios, diaries, poems, plays, printed music, and scores.

Georgian Theatre Statement
Manuscript of Akaki Tsereteli
Manuscript of Sesilia Takaishvili
Manuscript of Ivane Machabeli
Manuscript of Lado Asatiani
Manuscript of Sandro Akhmeteli

The museum contains manuscripts of the following eminent persons: Vazha-Pshavela, Akaki Tsereteli, Galaktion Tabidze, Titsian Tabidze, Ioseb Grishashvili, Ivane Machabeli, Oliver and Marjory Wardrobe, Alexander Sumbatashvili, Kote Meskhi, Kote Kipiania, Nato Gabunia, Elisabed Cherkezishvili, Valerian Gunia, Shalva Dadiani, Dimitri Arakishvili, Kote Marjanishvili, Sandro Akhmeteli, Vano Sarajishvili, Ushangi Chkeidze, Akaki Khorava, Akaki Vasadze, Mikheil Chiaureli, Veriko Anjaparidze, Sergo Zakariadze, Sesilia Takaishvili, Pyotr Tchaikokovsky, Feodor Chaliapin, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Vladimir Ipolitov-Ivanov as well as bibliographical materials about artists, Marjanishvili and Rustaveli Theatres, programmes of Telavi, Kutaisi, Batumi and other regional theatres.

Manuscript of Dimitri Arakishvili

There are also valuable materials kept about the history of Georgian and Abkhaz troupes of the Sokhumi Theatre, Georgian and Ossetian troupes of the Tskhinvali Theatre, and Azeri and Armenian Theatres.

The museum contains documents of the Duruji (Corporation of the Rustaveli Theatre Actors), the Tbilisi Academic State Opera and Ballet Theatre, and programmes of the Tbilisi Drama Society (1893-1903) printed on silk cloth. Besides this, screenplays and scenes of the shooting of Georgian and Russian films are also stored in the museum.

Depository of Fine Arts[edit]

Around 10,000 exhibits of over 300 Georgian artists reveal to us the evolution of Georgian scenic design. The Depository of Fine Arts contains portraits of theatre actors and directors, sketches of stage decorations and costumes, graphic compositions, Persian miniatures, French and German engravings, and color lithographs.

Alexander Beridze- Mako Saparova as Ophelia. 1886
Station Master by David Kakabadze

Artistic and literary life in Tbilisi was vibrant in 1918-1921 during the period of Georgian independence. Tbilisi, the capital city, became the hub for immigrant artists, poets and musicians from Russia. They established an excellent relationship with local artists and the literary group of Georgian symbolist poets Tsisperkantselebi (The Blue Horns), contributing to the cultural life of the city and making it more diverse and exciting. From 1922 to 1933, Georgian theatre enjoyed a revival. Kote Marjanishvili, an innovative Georgian theatre director, returned to Tbilisi after time away and became an important contributor to the evolution of the Georgian stage and scenic design, allowing set designers to demonstrate fully their vision and skills. And so the individuality of Georgian modernist painting became reflected perfectly within theatre design.

Konstantin Somov- Free Theatre Curtain, 1919

The collection of the depository comprises works of great artists such as: Petre Otskheli, Irakli Gamrkeli, Kiril Zdanevich, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani, David Kakabadze, Tamar Abakelia, Sergo Kobuladze, Solomon Virsaladze, Ivane Askurava, Irakli Doidze, Tamar and Dimitri Tavadzes, Nikoloz Kazbegi, Parna Lapiashvili, Revaz and Tengiz Mirzashvili, Vladimir and Mamia Malazonia, Giorgi Meskhishvili, Giorgi Ninua, Teimuraz Murvanidze, and Teimuraz Ninua, each of whom made a positive contribution to the evolution of Georgian scenic design and fine arts.

Mikhail Nesterov- Landscape of a lake edge 1890-91
Niko Pirosmani- Portrait of a man smoking 1900

Besides Georgian artists, the depository also keeps works of Russian, Armenian, Azeri, and other foreign artists, as well as works of representatives of the Russian Silver Age World of Art (founded in the early 20th century in St. Petersburg): Konstantin Korovin, Lev Bakst, Alexander Benua, Alexander Golovin, and Viktor Simov.

Qajar painting- King Solomon's feast, 1800
Unknown painter- Girl with a Goblet Drum, Miniature. Near East, 1800

Depository of Photos and Negatives[edit]

The Depository of Photos and Negatives houses up to 100,000 exhibits which depict the history of Georgian theatre, music, cinema and choreography from the late 19th century onwards. Apart from numerous photos, glass negatives kept in the museum reflect the development of the history of Georgian and foreign theatre, music, cinema and choreography.

David Arsenishvili Museum Founder
Rustavi Ensemble
Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani and Ketevan Maghalashvili in Paris

The collection comprises the private archives of eminent actors and directors who made a valuable contribution to the development of Georgian theatre, music, cinema and choreography (such as Vaso Abashidze, Lado Alexi-Meskhishvili, Mako Saparova, Valerian Gunia, Elisabed Cherkezishvili, Kote Meskhi, Sandro Akhmeteli, Kote Marjanishvili, and Vaso Kushitashvili), photos of the first Georgian theater troupes (scenes from plays such as: Motherland, Sister and Brother, Divorce, Khanuma, The Eclipse in Georgia, King Lear, and Hamlet), as well as Georgian opera and ballet, and Italian and Russian operas and theatres in Georgia.

Eristavi Palace in Akhalgori. 1912-1913

The museum keeps photos of the first Georgian national choirs and composers: Lado Aghniashvili, Joseb Ratili, Pilimon Koridze, Zakaria Paliashvili, Sandro Inashvili, Dimitri Arakishvili, Andria Balanchivadze, Shalva Mshvelidze; scenes from the first Georgian movies: Akaki’s Trip to Racha-Lechkhumi, Kristine, Arsena Jorjiashvili, My Grandmother, Amoki, Saba and The Last Masquerade; and the private archives of Ivan Perestiani, Alexander Tsutsunava, Nikoloz Shengelaia, Vladimir Barks, Mikheil Chaiureli, Alexander Dighmelovi, Rezo Chkheidze, Tengiz Abuladze, and Giorgi and Eldar Shengelia.

There are numerous materials of opera and theater plays from the post-revolution period which give important information about great actors and actresses: Akaki Khorava, Akaki Vasadze, Veriko Anjaparidze, Sesilia Takaishvili, Sergo Zakariadze, Ushangi Chkheidze, Vaso Godziashvili, Alexander Zhorzholiani, amongst others. Further, the depository keeps a rich photo archive of 19th-century ethnic minorities and diaspora.

There are photos of the buildings of theatres, a philharmonic hall, and a circus, and photos of tours of a number of Georgian troupes, orchestras and quartets.

Photos taken by famous photographers Dimitri Ermakov, Alexander Roinishvili, Eduard Klar, Alexander Mikhailov, Vladimir Barkanov, Alexander Germani, and Abram Nordshtein depict scenes and characters of Georgian plays as well as historical buildings.

The museum also has a vast collection of postcards from the late 19th century through to the 20th century.

Depository of Memorial Objects and Works of Art[edit]

The depository houses over 900 exhibits including some personal relics. The oldest object, a theatre mask with a chain, dates back to the classical period and was discovered at an excavation in Vani in 1941. The collection of achievement medals made with precious stones includes a golden medal conferred on Dimitri Arakishvili by the Imperial Russian Archeological Society and an enamel medal conferred upon Vano Sarajishvili. The silver crowns of Alexander Sumbatashvili- Yujin are distinguished by their elegance.

Toreador costume (detail)
Clown costume from the collection of Sandro Inashvili

Of particular note is the vast collection of theatre, film and choreography costumes, namely, costumes decorated with gold and semi-precious stones from the well-known Georgian movies: Bashia-chuki, The Right Hand of the Grand Master, Mamluk, and Keto and Kote. The Georgian National Ballet’s choreography costumes of Georgian dances Sadarbazo, Tushuri and Khevsurul were created and stitched according to sketches by Soliko Virsaladze. Famous Georgian dancer Pridon Sulaberidze is represented at the Museum by his adjaruli chokha (Georgian national male dress); alongside the costumes of singer Sando Inashvili, one of which- a torero’s outfit for Rigolleto -is embroidered with ornaments using gold-thread made in Milan.

Silver crown from the collection of A. Sumbatashvili
Watch with gold stamp

Objects belonging to other well-known people are also worthy of attention: Vazha-Pshavela’s cartridge for his chokha cartridge cases, Sergo Zakariadze’s glasses from the movie The Father of the Soldier, David Eristavi’s marble notebook, Dimitri Arakishvili’s golden watch and the audio transfer facility he used to record Georgian national songs onto wax cylinfers. This last was produced by the British Royal Factory and has the royal crown and initials of a Georgian saint printed in Asomtavruli (the monumental and oldest form of the Georgian alphabet). Many museum items describe to us the history of the development of different directions of the Arts. For instance, a silk poster for the premier of David Eristavi’s play Motherland (January 20, 1882).

One of the first exhibits of the Museum was a curtain designed by Russian artist Konstantin Somov for the Free Theatre which was established in Moscow by Kote Marjanishvili in 1913. The curtain was thought lost until it was rediscovered in the basement of one of the theaters in Moscow in 1930 and was later given to this museum.

The Museum also boasts Maya Plesetskaya’s and Nino Ananiashvili’s pointe shoes with their autographs- gifted to the Museum by Sergo Parajanovo.

Depository of Library and Rare Editions[edit]

The Depository of Library and Rare Editions houses a rich collection of 32,000 books and rare editions, mostly of the Georgian and Russian languages, about theatre, cinema, music, choreography, art, history, and religion. The museum also contains fictions, encyclopedias, dictionaries, plays, and printed music, as well as newspapers and magazines.

Goethe's Faust

The collection consists of such rare editions as Georgian Theatre by Valeri Gunia 1878-1889, Shota Rustaveli’s The Knight in the Panther’s Skin (1887 and 1892 editions), The Georgian Dictionary Sitkvis Kona by Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani (1884 ), the Bible (1884), the Old Testament (Kubaneishvili, 1909), Treasury of the 10th Century (Mose Janashvilis’s Letter 1891), The Complete Works of Giorgi Tsereteli (1894), Akaki’s Monthly Collected Stories (1898), Ancient Georgia edited by Ekvtime Takaishvili (1909), The Life of Kartli by David Chubinashvili (1854), The Georgian Tribe by Rostomashvili (1896), Tamar Batonishvili- a historical novel by Rcheulovi (1882), The Chronicle and Other Material of History of Georgia collected, chronicled, and edited by Jordania (1892), ”Кавказский календарь” (Caucasus Calendar 1854-1913 with an advertisement for the Lagidze Waters in the 1912 edition).

Issues of Georgian newspapers and magazines are also stored at the Museum: Teatri da Tskovreba (Theatre and Life 1910, 1914–17, 1923–24), Nishaduri (1917-1918), Sapironi (1924), Duruji (1926), Tartarozi (1927-1928), H2 SO4 (1924), Momavali (1920), Eroba (1920), Ushba (1926), Meotsnebe Niamorebi (1923), Drosha (1924-1925), Mizani (1927), ART (1912), Piramidebi (1924), Almanakhi (1925), Grdemli (1923 and 1927), Paskunji (1908 and 1910), Chveni Teatri (1921), Eshmakis Matrakhi (1919-1920), Sakhalkho Purtseli (1914), Sakhalkho Gazeti (1910), Matrakhi (1915), Lakhti (1912), and Kvali and Iveria.

The depository keeps old chants and printed music: Georgian Chants (Georgian –Kakhetian tone), The Rule of Liturgy of St. John Okropiri (1899), A Georgian Chant and A Chant for the Deceased recorded by Pilimon Koridze (1899), Solemn Chants of the Liturgy (1914), Georgian Ecclesiastic Chants (Gurian-Imeretian tone) recorded as sheet music by Priest Khundadze (1902), Hymns (1901), One Voiced Ecclesiastic Chant (1907), Georgian-Kakhetian Chants (Karbellant tone), Mtsukhri and Tsiskari written as sheet music (1897 – 1898), and Georgian Public Songs as printed music by Kargareteli (1899).

Further can be found Tavparavneli Chabuki transcribed by Ia Kargareteli in the village of Ertatsminda in 1928 (narrator Gabo Eshmakurashvili), Antonov’s Plays 1876, Valevsky’s The Foreigner translated by Ioseb Grishashvili with his autograph and postscripts, and Joke translated from Russian into Georgian by Akvsenti Tsagareli with Vaso Abashidze’s remark “naughtiness”.

The Museum also keeps books which contain the autographs of famous people such as: Niko Pirsomani with Lado Gudiashvili’s autograph, and that of Sergei Meskhi, accompanied by his photograph, in his Volume I edition of 1903.

History of Dance, Germany

Depository of Gramophone Records[edit]

The Depository of Gramophone Records contains one of the richest collections of video and audio recordings of old gramophones, contemporary cinema, and music. The 2,503 records kept at the Museum reflect the history of the evolution of audio recording. Wax cylinders produced by famous recording label Disco Pate and Concert Report, and Gramophone, music plates, audio cassettes and CDs, audio and video recordings of plays staged at the Tbilisi opera and theatres, radio and television programs, radio plays, chants, and an expedition record led by Shalva Mshvelidze in 1931-1933 can all be found stored at the Museum.

Of particular note within the collection are the songs: 'Since I Split Up With You/Since I Left You,' Lullaby, Evil Soul, 'I Have Passed Half of My Life' performed by Nato Gabunia-Tsagareli (recorded at Disco Pate); 'Only for You' (with lyrics by Shalva Dadiani) performed by Vano Sarajishvili (produced by Concert Report); 'Urmuli and Mestviruli' performed by Sandro Kavsadze; Georgian Ecclesiastical Chants performed by the Boys choir of the Georgian Patriarchate, regent Nodar Kiknadze; Second World War audio chronicles, Viktor Dolidze’s and Zakaria Paliashvili’s opera stages, pieces of music for ballets composed by Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Borodin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Igor Stravinsky; Franz Schubert’s symphonies performed by the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and Johann Strauss’ compositions performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Records of plays staged at the Rustaveli, Marjanishvili, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Gori and Telavi Theatres at different times are also stored at the Museum.

Depository of Posters[edit]

The Depository of Posters contains more than 70,000 exhibits with 4,000 posters dating from the 1850s to 1921 arranged in chronological order. The collection is rich in the posters of prominent representatives of Georgian and non-Georgian theatres: Vano Sarajishvili, Vaso Abashidze, Mako Saparova-Abashidze, Lado Aleksi-Meskhishvili, Giorgi Pronispireli, Valerian Gunia, Nato Gunia, Iuza Zardalishvili, Kote Meskhi, Feodor Chaliapin, and actors of the Moscow Imperial Theatre, as well as posters of drama circles and public theaters.

The Knight in the Panther's Skin- theatrical poster
Christine Theatrical Poster

The collection from the Tbilisi Opera from 1871 onwards is of special significance as it contains rare and in some cases unique copies of posters (other copies of which were destroyed as a result of a fire in the opera building in 1973, amongst other exhibits).

Further at the Museum can be found posters depicting the theatrical life of the Tbilisi Theatre, Zubalashvili Public House; the Circus of the Nikitin Brothers; and the Vera, Ortachala, Avchala, Avlabari, and Muslim stages; along with posters of craftsmen’s clubs.

The depository boasts an old theatre, concert and circus posters archive which includes posters of Giorgi Eristavi’s play Divorce (January 2, 1850), Polevoy’s Parasha Sibiryachka (January 27, 1856), Motherland (1897), three-act tragedy The Georgian Night at the Circus Colossus, Misfortune (cast: Nato Gabunia, Mako Saparova, Elisabed Cherkezishvili etc., 1889), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Mozart, Salieri featuring Feodor Chaliapin (March 22, 1900), Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and The Seagull staged by Russian director and head of the theatre New Drama, Vsevolod Mayrhold (1904–1905), and also Lope De Vega’s Fuenteovejuna, staged by Kote Marjanishvili at the Rustaveli Theatre.

The vast majority of the posters cover almost all theatres in Georgia from 1921 onwards and depict the theatrical life of Georgian theater troupes as well as that of ethnic minorities and Georgian diaspora.

Additionally, the depository keeps the posters of premieres of plays produced by outstanding Georgian directors such as Kote Marjanishvili and Sandro Akhmeteli, and posters of the stage life of well-known Georgian actors: Veriko Anjaparidze, Ushangi Chkheidze, Sergo Zakariadze, Sesilia Takaishvili, Akaki Khorava, Akaki Vasadze, Ramaz Chkhikvadze, and Erosi Manjgaladze, amongst others.

Posters reflecting the history of Georgian cinematography, feature and documentary films, and cartoons are also stored at the Museum.

External links[edit]