We have long been fascinated by the culture and history of Georgia. One of the most beautiful countries, with rich history and traditions that have had a huge impact on the international arts and cinematography. Remember the “Repentance” by Abuladze? Have you heard of a tremendous success of Georgian artists at the 55 Venice Biennale last year? Are you following the Tbilisi Photo Festival? Do you know that each region in Georgia has its own dance tradition?

Keeping all this in mind, it was quite challenging for us to decide on an art institution that would represent the Georgian cultural legacy. That being said, the Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography is just the first Georgian museum you will be reading about on MuSEEum as we want you to explore this fascinating country.

Indeed, this museum introduces an artistic scene of the country including cinematography and theatre. According to George Kalandia, the Director of the museum, the photo archive of the museum is the richest in Georgia! We were fascinated to discover that the museum serves as an educational institution for both children and adults, it has a diverse program of workshops and talks for children. Here’s what George Kalandia told us about the museum and why you must visit it!

Courtesy Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography – ART PALACE
Courtesy Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography – ART PALACE
Courtesy Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography – ART PALACE
Courtesy Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography – ART PALACE

The Collection of the Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography is pretty hybrid: from cultural and historic artefacts to sculpture. In your opinion, why is it important to incorporate those diverse objects in your collection?

Collection of the Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography is truly various and impressive. This is the reason that the last year in the official title of the museum has appeared a term `Art Palace`. And nowadays, the museum is called as the Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography – Art Palace. It possesses the priceless treasures of the Georgian cultural traditions and almost all art directions are presented here. The museum was founded by a famous Georgian public figure, a great art lover and enthusiast David Arsenishvili in 1927. During the Soviet Union’s ‘Red Terror’ Arsenishvili was trying hard to save every piece of art which was threatened to be destroyed. Museum collection was the best way to do a good work. That’s why visitors have an opportunity to see magnificent archaeological samples, brilliant textile collections and rare theatre and movie posters in one space. Every visitor is inspired after seeing the brilliant collection of the museum. We believe that the tasteful combination of different art patterns give the museum its charm which fascinates everyone.

"Every piece of art preserved in the palace has its own unique and interesting history which is a part of the Georgian cultural heritage," - George Kalandia.

The collection of photographs documenting Georgian theatre is stunning! Is it aimed to be used as a resource for educating public? Apart from photography, do you have any educational programs that shed light on Georgia’s great history of theatre and cinema?

Art Palace photo collection is the richest in Georgia. The depository of photos and negatives keeps more than 141 000 exhibits which depict the history and development of Georgian theatre, music, cinema and choreography from the second half of the 19th century onwards. The collection comprises private archives and memorial photos of Georgian nobles and it gives us the great opportunity to learn important historical facts as well as to research Georgian national costume. In the museum several interesting educational programs are aimed at school kids. Generally, more than 150 children a day come to the museum to attend the programs. They learn the history of Georgian theatre, national folklore, celebrations, photography, animation, national costumes, etc. Practical work includes mind exercises with entertaining details. Children create costume patches with their own hands, they paint cartoon and movie characters using their own imaginations, they also make various souvenirs.

Who is your average visitor? And how do you see your target audience? Do you find the museum appealing to kids and families? If yes, please elaborate on that. If no, please explain why?

Art Palace covers wide range of audience. Because of the variety of museum collections we try to attract attention of almost all visitors. Museum visitors are: school-age children who increase their knowledge about art with help of our educational programs and exhibitions, students who are interested in the history and modern achievements of theatre, music, cinema, choreography, etc. and representatives of elder generation who are particularly fond of the life of old Tbilisi aristocracy. Kids and families are frequent guests of our museum. Every December the palace starts a Christmas educational program for children. They have a chance to see old Georgian Christmas gifts, beautiful greetings and try to make copies for their parents in the museum workshops. Children are looking forward to the Christmas programs and thus there is alway a queue for these events. More than seven or eight groups a day participate in workshops. Parents, after seeing precious Christmas presents made by their kids, are fascinated and often return to visit the museum with their whole family on weekends. This time, children perform guides duties and explain to their parents a history of exhibit copies of which they already presented them.

The history of theatre, music, cinema and choreography is a history of people. Do you collaborate or try to show the work of contemporary Georgian cinematographers, for example?

Without cooperation with contemporary Georgian cinematographers modern life of museum is hardly imaginable. Thanks to such collaborations we enrich existing collection with new materials such as posters, costumes, screenplays, etc. In different years the museum organized several exhibitions dedicated to the famous Georgian film director Eldar Shengelaia, well-known and people’s favorite actors Kaxi Kavsadze and Givi Berikashvili. Georgian society highly appreciated the museum exhibition `Georgian Cinema Art` within which many significant modern paintings were shown. We believe, a museum is a living organism which needs not only to protect the heritage, but to constantly renew and get inspired by the arts of today.

"The educational programs are designed to make art, culture and museum more attractive for youth, so they will care about national heritage and will protect and promote the legacy for future generations."