Since settling into our new apartment, a couple of weeks ago, we’ve had the opportunity to visit two very worthwhile museums in Tbilisi.

On December 9th, we visited The Museum of Modern Art, which is located near the old town, in a beautiful, 3 story building, with marble floors and a glass ceiling. The museum features the works of Zurab Tsereteli, who was born on January 4, 1934, and who graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. He later relocated to Moscow and has been President and a professor, at the Russian Academy of Art, since 1997.

Though I’m not a big fan of modern art, I found Zurab’s portrait paintings, in oils, to be particularly appealing, for the way he made the limbs of his subjects disproportionate in size and their facial features exaggerated. 

In the museum, I read that the large-scale sculptures that we saw were made using caulking on copper, and became the models of artists that Zurab admired, such as, Picasso and Van Gough. There was also a smaller sculpture of Charlie Chaplain on display.  

My favorite works of Zurab were the bright colored paintings he did with caulking on enamel, which gave them a 3-D effect, that made them stand out from across the room.

This was such an impressive museum and I’m glad that I went in with an open mind, to see works that fascinated me, beyond my expectations!

This past Saturday, December 15th, we stopped at our favorite bakery for a pastry and coffee, then headed to Vake Park, to visit the open-air Museum of Ethnography. We found the sketchy directions to the park on Google maps, and when we reached the back of the park, at the hill, we weren’t sure where to go. We thought the museum might be above the large set of stairs in front of us, but before we made our way up, I asked a man who was jogging through the park if that was the right way to go. He told us we could go up the steep flight of stairs, take the long winding road, or we could go up the hill, towards the museum, via the cable car. The cable car sounded more appealing, so we followed the signs to the entrance. We had a 10-minute wait, but we were able to use our public transportation cards for the trip up the hill, to Turtle Lake. When we reached the top we stopped to admire the breath-taking view of the snow-capped Caucasus mountain peaks, in the distance, and the city below, before descending by foot, halfway back down the hill, to the museum. 

When we reached the entrance to the museum, we paid a small fee of about $1.20 each to enter. Most of the 70 dwellings in the historical village were closed for the winter season, but we did have the opportunity to enter a few of the flat-roof stone houses, and some of the gable-roof wooden houses, from the 18th and 19th centuries. 

The earlier 18th century dwellings were basic one-room homes that contained a fire pit in the middle and a large wood platform with woven rugs, that was used for a bed, for up to sixteen people. Within these earlier homes, we were also shown traditional household articles, such as a small table, tools, and pottery vessels for wine and milk. 

The later dwellings from the 19th century were built in a more advanced style and consisted of three separate rooms, each containing a fireplace. One room had a table and chairs and an area for cooking, and the other two rooms were meant for sleeping, and contained wood plank beds. 

Inside a wine cellar, a guide showed us tools and a trough where the grapes were stomped by foot to make the wine. We were also shown a press where grape skins were pressed to make their version of Russian vodka, called Chacha.

We had a great day at the Museum of Ethnography and as we wound our way back down the hill towards Vake Park, we decided we would definitely return when more dwellings were open, at a different time of year.