A Yerevan jewel, the Near East Museum, located in the rear of the the National Gallery building on Republic Square (1 Arami p. Tel: Tel: 56-37-14, 39-42-74)is a rare find.
NOTE: A printable version (PDF) of this guide with pictures is located at bottom of the page.
This small museum was founded in 1992 and houses the collection of the artist Marcos Grigorian in the memory of his daughter, actress Sabrina Grigorian, who tragically died at the age of 29. You can walk through the museum in less than 30 minutes, but give yourself more time to take in this remarkable collection.
Grigorian has had a storied life, and in his eighties, he continues to work, adding to his substantial collection of multi-media art and unique Modern Armenian carpets. The museum houses a working carpet loom, where Grigorian painstakingly weaves his intricate designs based on Armenian themes when he is in residence. Grigorian began his work in the 1950’s in Iran, where he began assembling his substantial collection of Persian historic and tribal art and objects. In 1962 Grigorian moved to the USA and established the Gorki Gallery, in memory of he American Armenian painter Arshille Gorki.
Gregorian’s most disturbing painting is his monumental 13-canvas, “The Gate of Auschwitz” based on his reaction to the Holocaust. Now widely discussed, the holocaust and it causes were shunned in the 1950s when Grigorian began creating his masterwork, even by Jewish Associations. Three canvases of this 120-foot long epic painting are on display at the museum. Deeply immersing himself into the work, and the horrific nature of the theme, Grigorian radically changed his concept of art, beginning his series of “earth works”, canvases and multi-media pieces using dirt as its primary medium. Years ahead of his time, Grigorian’s experimentation with earth, straw and paint predate later pieces by American, European and Japanese artists by decades. Several pieces are on display, hauntingly evocative artwork combining earth, straw, found objects and insight.
A third area of the museum is devoted to Grigorian’s carpet weaving. A natural extension of his earth works, his carpets are each a radical re-interpretation of the millennia old art form. Grigorian was an avid collector and the bulk of the tiny museum is devoted to his collection of Iranian artifacts and art, prehistoric Armenian artifacts and Russian and European art and objects, a quirky collection of Persian tiles, door knockers, faucets, pre-Islamic art, sewing machines and gramophones.