Culture is Everywhere, Even in the Georgian High Mountains

On July 29, in Mestia, the capital of the mountainous Svaneti region of Georgia, an education center, media library and photo exhibition by Guram Tikanadze was opened by the Georgian National Museum and the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. This was an event to promote the cultural, educational and scientific life in the mountainous region and show that Tbilisi is not the only center of culture in Georgia, but as it is in the West, culture and development is scattered across the entire country.

The grand opening was hosted by the General Director of the Georgian National Museum, Davit Lordkipanidze. Among the distinguished guests were the Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, Mikheil Giorgadze, and the leader of Mestia Municipality, Kapiton Jorjoliani.

The Svaneti Museum is a 21st century cultural and educational center, equipped with the latest standards and aiming to support scientific and research activities. Davit Lordkipanidze, General Director of the Georgian National Museum, an umbrella of many museums and galleries scattered all around Georgia, commented shortly before the opening: “Svaneti Museum surpasses the mere conception of a museum. It has always been a cultural, educational and scientific center. Now it will also offer a number of programs to children, as well as an exhibition hall for temporary events. This is how we see the concept of the modern Georgian museum. Moreover, it shows that we do not believe that they should all be concentrated in Tbilisi. Svaneti Museum is a very important venue for the whole cultural heritage and history of the country. In August, a festival is planned to be held here as well as a lot of public lectures.”

The Museum Educational Center aims to promote Georgian culture, heritage, art and science among local and international visitors. Educational programs provided by the newly-opened center will include excursions, games, public lectures, meetings with scientists and researchers, movie screenings, performances and many other activities. 

Georgia Today spoke to Mikheil Giorgadze, Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia: “We are directly engaged in this event, as the Georgian National Museum is part of our structural unit. I’m glad that the museum staff and leadership do not restrict themselves to only the preservation of exhibits and that they have added additional significance. Thanks to them, science becomes much more familiar, comprehensible, interesting and popular. It is of the utmost importance that children be involved throughout. Our ministry is doing its best to turn Svaneti into an extremely attractive place for locals, Georgians and foreign tourists alike.”

The museum provides a wide range of programs that are designed for the whole family, including educational programs for children and teenagers under the age of 17, with activities also for students of different sporting disciplines, and with the support of Mestia Municipality students from different schools throughout the mountainous region will have the chance to participate in such programs. Excursions and field trips will also take place with the aim of introducing participants to local history, traditions, ecology, flora, fauna and cultural heritage. 

Besides deepening general knowledge, the informal environment provided by the museum’s educational programs will help participants develop skills with regards to imagination, concentration, independent thinking, critical analyzing and communication. At the Georgian National Museum they aim to turn museums into a space that provides inspiration and positive emotions, to deepen interest and creativity, to support a greater perception of the world and to reinforce consciousness.

The Media Library is a modern interactive space where visitors are introduced to the latest literature and will have an opportunity to use free Wi-Fi.

For local residents and tourists the Georgian National Book Center supplied Svaneti Museum’s reading space with more than 200 books. The books published by research institutes and Georgian publishers are intended to appeal to various interests and age groups. The Media Library will thus help the population of the mountainous region to access the latest literature. 

The Georgian National Book Center and The Georgian National Museum have expressed gratitude to the G. Leonidze Museum of Georgian Literature, G. Chubinashvili National Research Center for Georgian Art History and Heritage Preservation, the National Center of Manuscripts, the National Parliamentary Library of Georgia and several publishing houses.

The exhibition hall is now housing the first of many temporary exhibitions: the 1932-1963 works of famous Georgian photographer Guram Tikanadze. Mountain scenes take on a special role in his creations. Tikanadze showed great interest in mountaineering during his youth, while more towards photography during his student years. For some time he explored caves throughout Georgia; however it was photography and mountaineering that brought him international recognition.

The photo heritage by Guram Tikanadze consists of more than 15,000 negatives. Meanwhile, 40 photo works from his family’s archives, describing the mountains and Svaneti will also be showcased at the exhibition. The contribution of Guram Tikanadze to the development of Georgian color photography and photojournalism has been invaluable. He was a photo correspondent in the sociopolitical and literary-artistic Georgian magazine “Flag” and collaborated with publishing houses in Poland, Czech Republic, Italy and the German Democratic Republic. Guram Tikanadze had participated in exhibitions and competitions in Italy, USA, Japan, Belgium, Hungary and Hong Kong.

So, dear friends, foreigners living in Georgia, and tourists, if you wish to avoid the heat of Tbilisi throughout these summer months, beautiful Svaneti is waiting, offering now not only indelible wild natural beauty and fresh air, but also an extremely interesting cultural, educational and scientific center at the Svaneti Museum.

Maka Lomadze

30 July 2015 21:45