Matenadaran (literally, “manuscript repository”) or the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts is a significant repository of both Armenian and foreign ancient and medieval manuscripts. It is also a famous Armenian historical research institute, as well as a museum you should definitely visit during your stay in Yerevan, Armenia.
Matenadaran is one of the most significant historical and scientific achievements of the modern Republic of Armenia. This research center and museum in Yerevan is considered to be among the richest repositories of ancient manuscripts throughout the world.
Matenadaran possesses more than 17000 manuscripts and 30000 historical documents, mainly drawn from different Armenian areas, churches and monasteries, as well as personal collections, provided by private donors.
The books, manuscripts and other works, held at Matenadaran museum of Yerevan, cover a broad array of issues and various subjects, such as chronology, history, medicine, philosophy, arts history and even cosmology.
In Matenadaran, along with the Armenian documents and manuscripts, you can find very large collections of around 2000 works in such languages as Russian, Japanese, Persian, Arabic and Hebrew. The director of Matenadaran is Hrachya Tamrazyan.
Before visiting Matenadaran Museum of Yerevan, you might want to know what kinds of exhibitions are there in advance. In this very part, we will present you the main, regular exhibitions of Matenadaran, as well as non-regular and exclusive ones!
Matenadaran Regular Exhibitions
Matenadaran regular exhibitions are held in the museum complex hall which is situated in the old building of the research institute.
Formerly, it was a single hall for exhibitions but, currently, it consists of 15 exhibition halls, offices, various repositories and laboratories where numerous exclusive items (manuscripts, documents, individual miniatures) are displayed.
Central Exhibition Hall of Matenadaran
Matenadaran Central hall of exhibitions is totally dedicated to the medieval Armenian scientific, historical, medical and literature works and achievements, created during the period from the Armenian alphabet creation (405) by Mesrop Mashtots up to the 18th century.
What is special about this exhibition is that in its framework, you can also see some samples of historically valuable manuscripts, survived from the Armenian Genocide.
Mush and Karin Exhibition Hall of Matenadaran
This is a collection hall of manuscripts, brought from Mush and Karin cities of the Western Armenia (currently, the territory of the eastern Turkey).
The most famous manuscripts among the exhibited ones are the Msho Tcharentir (Mush Homilies), Cilician school miniatures (authored by Toros Roslin, 13th century).
The special thing about the mentioned Msho Tcharentir manuscript, written during 1200-1202, is that it measures around 55 cm by 70 cm and its weight is 27.5 kg. Its pages were made from more than 600 calf skin pieces.
Actually, two Armenian women found Msho Tcharentir in a destroyed church on the territory of the Ottoman Empire (the period of World War I and the Armenian Genocide).
As it was too heavy to be carried by women, they decided to divide it into 2 parts: the first half of the book was buried, wrapped in a cloth, and the second part was taken to the neighboring Georgia. Only years later, the 2 parts of Msho Tcharentir were brought to Armenia and were eventually reunited and kept at Matenadaran.
If you choose this exhibition, you will also see the digital copies of the manuscripts that are displayed on the wall by electronic monitors.
Exhibition Hall of “Artsakh” in Matenadaran
Matenadaran “Artsakh” exhibition hall shows all the miniature works, belonging to the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) School, their specific features and characteristics.
Exhibition Hall of Medieval Medicine in Matenadaran
In this exhibition hall, you will admire medical manuscripts, having not only theoretical, but also practical importance, even nowadays.
In those manuscripts, natural medicine ingredients, various diseases and their treatments are described. You can even buy these unique medieval recipes from Matenadaran and prepare your medicine on your own!
There are also other exhibition halls in Matenadaran, Yerevan, that you can see:
- Maps exhibition hall, displaying the ancient and medieval Armenia’s and its regional neighbors’ knowledge of geography (you can even see the first Armenian language printed map),
- Archival and historically significant documents (more than 500 000 samples), photos exhibition, devoted to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,
- Two exhibition halls of old books (mainly of the period from the 16th to the 18th centuries), published in other countries and cities,
- Martiros Saryan’s (famous Armenian artist) works, personal belongings, exhibited in 4 halls.
Matenadaran Non-Regular/Exclusive Exhibitions
There are various exhibitions, periodically held at Matenadaran that you can visit and enjoy the cultural and historical spirit of this place.
Among those exhibitions are the temporary exhibitions of Matenadaran, organized at the research center building’s temporary exhibitions hall of Matenadaran (the 4th floor).
Matenadaran Embroidery Collection
One of the mentioned non-regular exhibitions, for example, was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and was organized in the framework of Ayntab (Western Armenian city) Program since April of 2015.
The collection of Hrazdan Toqmajyan’s (Armenian writer and collectioner) is presented here, in the above-mentioned hall. His personal collection includes various samples of Armenian embroidery and crafts you can get introduced with.
The “Anania Shirakatsi” Exhibition of Matenadaran
The temporary exhibition, held from March of 2013 to May of 2014, was dedicated to Anania Shirakatsi’s (famous mathematician, cosmologist and geographer in the early medieval Armenia) 1400th anniversary.
Armenian-Iranian Artists’ Works Exhibition of Matenadaran
On December 4 of 2015, the works of Armenian-Iranian artists’ were displayed at Matenadaran. There were Khan Sevrugian’s photographs and Andre Sevrugian’s (father and son) paintings presented during that exhibition.
Matenadaran has also signed a contract agreement with Emmanuel Sevrugian (a German citizen). According to that agreement, E. Sevrugian donated more than 100 collections and works by worldly-known artists to the museum of Matenadaran.
Matenadaran Tourist Information
The Matenadaran was designed by Mark Grigoryan and founded in 1957 (the construction had started since 1945).
The architecture of this building is very unique and memorable at first sight. You can see some prominent Armenian historians, scholars, scientists, writers and philosophers’ statues, erected on the left and right sides of Matenadaran.
In the central part of Matenadaran main building you can see the statues to Mesrop Mashtots, the creator of the Armenian alphabet, and his pupil, Koryun, on bended knees in front of his great teacher.
In 2011, the construction of the research institute, adjacent to Matenadaran museum, was completed (after the Armenian state and religious leaders conducted its groundbreaking ceremony in 2009).
Matenadaran Main Objectives
Among the main objectives of Matenadaran, we can mention the following ones:
- Preserving and reproducing the ancient manuscripts
- Restoring the manuscripts, books and documents, presented at the museum
- Cataloging the museum’s exhibits
- Publishing the manuscripts not only in Armenian, but also in other languages
Special Programs for Schoolchildren and Students in Matenadaran
Matenadaran significance wouldn’t be that obvious if it didn’t organize special programs, excursions and services for children and students as well.
Currently, there are many programs, designed for schoolchildren, coming to the museum with big groups, with their teachers and even parents. Those programs include special guide services, aimed at making the information about Matenadaran exhibitions and significance more available for children to understand.
This is the main reason why so many schools organize excursions to Matenadaran for their schoolchildren, so that the latter start to get interested in their history from childhood which is very important, actually.
Why is Matenadaran an Important Place for Students?
Apart from schoolchildren, Matenadaran has much to offer to students as well. Adjacent to the museum, the Matenadaran Research Institute welcomes all the interested students to conduct their research.
All they need is to apply for studying at the research institute, pass the necessary exams and take some tests. Then, finally, they become a part of this outstanding museum of Matenadaran in Yerevan, Armenia!
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