PanARMENIAN.Net - The oldest museum of Yerevan is the Museum of History founded in 1919. The museum features 400.000 exhibits, 45% of them being coins; 35% are archeological artifacts as well as maps, household items, etc. A separate hall dedicated to the history of Urartu opened in 2011. Like in the soviet times, the museum presents its displays at various international exhibitions. The biggest collection was conveyed to Paris in 2007, in the framework of the Year of Armenia in France.
However, it’s painful that the museum doesn’t enjoy popularity among the Armenian population. 34.126 people visited it throughout 2010, majority of them to gaze at the oldest shoe that was found in Areni cave. 5832 of them were schoolchildren. The number of foreign visitors totaled 7595, what evidences of poor awareness of tourists about the local museums. According deputy director of the museum Ivetta Mkrtchyan, it is explained by absence of cooperation between the museum and travel agents, lack of booklets and ads in the airports.
The Museum Institute of the Ancient Manuscripts, Matenadaran, is more lucky. It features about 17.300 manuscripts, of which 2904 are in foreign languages (Russian, Assyrian, Georgian, Arabic and even Ethiopic) and the rest are Armenian. At that, almost all of them are original. There are also plenty of books on history, geography, medicine, law and music. According to statistical data, about 55.300 people visited Matenadaran last year.
“Matenadaran is extremely popular among tourists. Each year, we see queues of tourists from April to November, that is why we asked Armenian schools to organize excursions during the other months,” the museum deputy director said.
A new building under construction is expected to host laboratories, restoration school and a center while the old building will have exhibition halls only. The opening is scheduled for September 21, Armenia's Independence Day.
Both museums are operating under the auspices of the government, which annually allocates funds to cover the expenditures. Besides, the museums get profit from the sale of tickets, which cost from AMD 500 to 1000 ($1.3 -$2.5). A souvenir shop at Matenadaran sells balsams and ointments prepared by recipes inscribed on the ancient manuscripts. Thanks to this, the museum is able to organize temporary exhibitions, various events and publish catalogues and scientific works.
On the whole, museum employees are displeased with the number of visitors. Local residents almost ceased going to museums, with exception for schoolchildren and students. Adults allege being busy or complain about the high price for tickets. However, almost all of Yerevan museums work at weekends. As to prices... each museum offers free entry one day per week.