Armenian News Network / Groong
November 13, 2008
By Ruth Bedevian
Pedestrian path that connects Abovian
Street near Republic Square to the
© Ruth Bedevian
Located a stone's throw away from the Vernisage, the Alexander Tamanyan Museum (Government House, 3rd Building, Yerevan) is a vast ground-level room with very high ceilings and is partitioned into eight sections. We were warmly greeted by Anahid Bedrosian, Custodian of Archives and also an architect. She guided us through the displays, telling us that the offices of the Tamanyan Research Institute are also housed in the museum under the supervision of the Ministry of Urban Development. She went on to explain, that the museum was founded through the efforts of the Tamanyan family as recently as 2001. A government financed museum, the artifacts belong to the family and there is no charge for admission. A visitor is welcomed to view drawings signed by the architect, photographs, and dioramas. One diorama, in particular, depicted the reconstruction of Yaroslavl which was Russia's second largest city in the 17th century. As Anahid explained, `In 1913 the Romanoff family was celebrating the 300th anniversary of its dynasty. As part of the celebrations each area prepared exhibits. Tamanyan studied photographs of Yaroslavl and created original drawings. Corresponding photos of his renderings are on display. Based on his drawings, the diorama was created.
A large photograph of a beautiful woman caught my attention in the first section. Anahid told us Tamanyan married Camilla Edwards in 1907. Her mother was French and her father was Scottish. They had two sons and two daughters. Their first daughter, Maria, died at age thirteen. Vavara died at age twenty. Julius died at an early age also. Kevork, an artist, died in 2004. He was the first director of the museum and his son, Haik, is the present director.
© Ruth Bedevian
According to Anahid, Martiros Saryan, the famed artist, is credited with having persuaded Tamanyan to return to Armenia. After being asked four times, he finally negotiated with the Soviet government. He requested a home and safety and food for his family as he had seen great suffering and his first born had already died. The Soviet officials agreed and he reestablished himself in 1923 in Yerevan with his family. As chief architect, he served for ten years as chairman of the committee to preserve the historic monuments of Armenian architecture while working on the design for the city of Yerevan. By 1929 part of Republic Square's main building, Government House, was finished. A massive undertaking, construction was not completed until after Tamanyan's death in 1936. [Tamanyan's grave rests among his contemporaries in a place of honor in the Pantheon of Komitas Park.]
Anahid said, `Tamanyan's grandson by his son Kevork fought in Karabagh.' To celebrate the inauguration of the President of Karabagh in September 2007, a special exhibit was brought to Stepanakert, Karabagkh by grandsons Haik and Ara Tamanyan. They were present at the opening ceremony. At that time Haik Tamanyan said, `...this is the first exhibition `abroad' and perhaps the last because the exhibits are highly fragile and may easily be spoiled.'
It is truly worth a visitor's time to step across the path at the edge of the Vernisage to enter the Alexander Tamanyan museum and experience the life and work of a man whose spirit embraces all of Yerevan!
-- Ruth Bedevian continues her visits in Armenia. Many of her articles are at: http://www.groong.org/orig/armeniahousemuseums.html
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