New tourist attraction opened in Tbilisi in February

The Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art in Tbilisi opened more than four months ago–on February 29, 2012—but you may not have heard about it yet. In fact, on a Saturday afternoon, we were the only visitors. Which is a shame because it is a wonderful collection of art in a beautiful building. I’m sure it will become one of the top 5 tourist attractions in Tbilisi once people “discover” it. Right now, the diverse work of Zurab Tsereteli fills all three floors of the museum, but in the future, the first floor will be devoted to rotating exhibitions of other modern artists.

I shamefully admit that I had not heard of the Tbilisi-born artist Zurab Tsereteli, but other Americans may know him because he was the first artist to create a memorial to the 9-11 victims. The memorial is officially entitled “To the Struggle Against World Terrorism;” it is also known as “The Memorial at Harbor View Park” or the “Tear Drop Memorial.”  The monument is in New Jersey across from the site of the World Trade Center.

Tsereteli began his career in Tbilisi, and if you visit the museum (did I mention it is free?), you’ll find more than 300 pieces of his art on display. They include graphic works, enamels, paintings and sculptures. Of particular interest are his brightly colored enamels. Usually artists use the technique of cloisonne enamel to create jewelry and other small pieces, but Tsereteli invented a technique that allows him to create large artworks of high quality.

Paintings and sculpture by Zurab Tsereteli in Tbilisi; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Courtyard of the Zurab Tsereteli Museum of Modern Art in Tbilisi; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

The museum is in the former building of the Cadet Corps on Rustaveli Avenue next to the Opera House. When original building opened in 1909, it was “an exquisite two-story mansion with wings and an inner courtyard,” but by 1917 it “suffered devastation, destruction of the interior decoration and a period of communal life.” Zurab Tsereteli initiated the renovation in 2005. His concept for the space includes exhibition halls, a research and educational center, children’s studio, library, conference hall, art-shop and café.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

2 Responses to New tourist attraction opened in Tbilisi in February

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just came back from a visit to Tibilsi. So sorry didn’t know about this museum as I admire Zurab Tsereteli after seeing his amazing sculpture in Moscow few years ago. This museum was just closed as I arrived and had no other time.
    He has one sculpture in Jerusalem too.
    Next time in Tibilisi…

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