The Continued Efforts for the Revitalization of Georgia’s Museum Sector

Opening of Giorgi Chitaia exhibition, founder of the Open Air Museum, Summer 2010 ©Nana Meparishvili

With financial support from the Norwegian Government, UNESCO has renewed its commitment in assisting the revitalization of the Georgian museum sector, which was first initiated in September 2006 with the immediate goal to conserve and restore the traditional houses and related ethnographical objects in the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum, situated in Tbilisi. Working with various international and national partners, such as the Maihaugen Museum in Lillehammer, Norway, the Norwegian Crafts Union, the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage, ICOMOS Georgia, the Georgian National Museum, the Tbilisi State Academy of Fine Arts and the Georgian Ministry of Culture, Monuments’ Protection and Sport; the project continues to develop the Open Air Museum into a sustainable and dynamic centre for the safeguarding and promotion of Georgian architectural and ethnographic heritage.

Past achievements which are built upon range from the development of national skills in timber restoration, through the establishment of an inventory of the museum collections, including movable objects such as traditional furniture and household utensils, to the establishment of a crafts programme that educates Georgian youths about their cultural heritage. The programme is also an important means to generate income for the local communities producing the crafts (especially communities in more isolated areas, and women in particular). By expanding ongoing activities, the Museum will become more sustainable. New activities, such as the conservation of movable objects, collection management/maintenance, exhibition design and development will be launched to guarantee the promotion and outreach of the Museum. At a time when it is difficult for ordinary Georgian citizens to interpret their immediate national history, this overall project to revitalize a national museum and as a consequence building capacity for the regeneration of the whole museum sector in Georgia, is vital to comprehend their different cultural values; while at the same time preparing to adapt to a rapidly changing contemporary world.

The overall project has been divided into three phases:

Phase I: "The Restoration and Revitalization of the Georgian State Museum of Vernacular and Ethnography: Emergency Restoration Works and Capacity-building", September 2006-March 2008.

Phase II: "The Restoration and Conservation of the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography (the Open Air Museum)", December 2007-30 September 2009.

Phase III: "The Restoration and Conservation of the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography (the Open Air Museum)", June 2009-estimated June 2012.

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