An authentic museum space in a historical residence of Ilia Chavchavadze - Georgian publicist, author and a major figure of the country's 19th century national movement - has reopened in Tbilisi to mark a successful conclusion of a four-year rehabilitation work and reintroduce another museum venue to the capital.
The Ilia Chavchavadze Literary-Memorial Museum is one of four venues across Georgia dedicated to the life and legacy of the writer. It had been closed since 2017 for a renovation under the New Tiflis programme run by the Tbilisi Development Fund.
Unveiled after "large-scale works" worth 3 million GEL ($ 965,000/€ 825,000) and involving reinforcement of the building, restoration of authentic interior and decorative elements, setting up of exhibition spaces and more, the museum was presented on Friday.
The city hall said particular attention had been devoted to maintaining authentic appearance of spaces in the building, from office and bedroom to the Memorial Dining Hall. The museum now also boasts a reading room and a library, with the entire venue equipped for disability use.
Office rooms where Chavchavadze worked have been restored to their authentic appearance, along with other areas of the venue. Photo: Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze social media page on Facebook.
The museum is set up in the building where Chavchavadze and his spouse Olga Guramishvili lived between 1888-1901, with the editorial offices of the Iveria newspaper, led by the public figure, also located there.
Owned by the writer's sister Elisabed Chavchavadze-Saginashvili, the house hosted numerous gatherings of the cultural circles, entrepreneurs and public figures during the active years of Chavchavadze's political, cultural and social career in the last decades of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
Established in 1982, the museum's collections involve over 14,000 items, including personal items and archives, editions of works by Chavchavadze, documentary and photographic material, publications and articles by the writer.
Exhibits of the museum include works by the writer himself, as well as his personal belongings. Photo: Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze social media page on Facebook.
Born in 1837, Chavchavadze studied in St Petersburg, Russia before returning to his country - under the Tsarist Russian rule - in 1860. He led the Tergdaleulebi cultural and social movement that introduced liberal European ideas in Georgia, while also founding two of the newspapers publishing articles on the subjects.
Also known for his establishment of the Society for the Spreading of Literacy among Georgians and his role in the launch and chairmanship of the Land Bank of Tbilisi, Chavchavadze gradually became a major figure in the social, economic and cultural scenes in the 19th century Georgia.
Promoting preservation and promotion of the Georgian language against ongoing processes of Russification of the local culture, he published a number of major literary works on subjects of social and cultural gaps between countryside and urban population, moral stagnation in society and more.
Chavchavadze was assassinated in 1907 while travelling in his cart outside Mtskheta, with various elements of the killing remaining unresolved by subsequent investigations. In 1987, he was posthumously declared a saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
The Ilia Chavchavadze Literary-Memorial Museum is open for visitors daily except on Tuesdays. The venue is located at 7 Ivane Javakhishvili Street in Tbilisi.