Visitors and locals in Tbilisi can now find exhibits of centuries-old Georgian and European art as well as historical material on local nobility in the newly reopened Smirnov Family Museum in the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi.
Closed for renovation works over the recent years, the venue’s unveiling on Thursday marked the start of month-long free admission for visitors to the museum.
Visitors of the venue will find collections of 18th and 19th century painting by Georgian and European artists, Russian and European vintage furniture, a "unique” library and documentary archives on Smirnov nobility, said the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia.
The museum exhibits include vintage furniture made in Russia and Europe. Photo: Gela Bedianashvili/Georgia's Culture Ministry press office.
Located on 20 Galaktion Tabidze Street next to central Tbilisi’s Freedom Square, the museum is known as the former house of residence for generations of the Smirnov noble family of the Russian Imperial court.
The history behind the building began in the 1860s, when Armenian merchant Yagor Tamamshev hired architect Otto Simonson to build a residential house in Tbilisi.
Tamamshev eventually dowered the house to his granddaughter Elizabeth Tamamsheva for her marriage to Mikhail Smirnov. The latter was the youngest child of Russian Imperial court lady-in-waiting Alexandra Smirnova-Rossette (1809-1882) and Nikolai Smirnov, an official from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The house was set with family belongings brought by Smirnov from St. Petersburg to Tbilisi, with the family home playing host to various cultural and public events in Tbilisi from the late 18th through the 20th century.
The exhibits of the reopened venue feature historical information and references. Photo: Gela Bedianashvili/Georgia's Culture Ministry press office.
Visitors of the Smirnov family house included celebrated Georgian writer and public figure Ilia Chavchavadze (1837-1907), founder of Georgian brandy production David Sarajishvili (1848-1911), famous Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) and internationally recognised Romantic painter Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900).
The venue also served as the place where the first complete edition of writings by Georgian poet Nikoloz Baratashvili (1817-1845) originated.
In addition, residents of the home were known for social initiatives including launching charities for homeless children of Tbilisi and financing construction projects in Georgia’s capital.
A collection of centuries-old medals preserved at the family museum. Photo: Gela Bedianashvili/Georgia's Culture Ministry press office.
Their family collection, preserved at the newly reopened museum, were considered by Georgia’s Culture Ministry as "significant exhibits of the cultural heritage” of the country. These include paintings by Aivazovsky as well as German painters Franz Xaver Winterhalter and Franz Krueger.
The collections are completed by vintage family items of everyday use and "rich photo- and documentary material”.
The Smirnov Family Museum is open to the public daily. The venue’s closing days are Sunday and Monday.