Parts of museum to famed actor Nato Vachnadze in Georgia's east reported disintegrating

Located in Georgia's east, the Museum keeps collections paying tribute to the life and career of a major face of the Soviet cinema of the 1920s and 1930s. Photo via Nato Vachnadze Museum page on Facebook, 12 Aug 2022 - 15:52, Tbilisi,Georgia

Sections of the museum to the famed actor Nato Vachnadze, one of classic Georgian cinema's most recognised faces, in the east of the country have been reported to be disintegrating from neglect.

Radio Tavisupleba, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Georgian service, on Thursday said the central entrance stairs, ornamented balcony handrails and the wooden floor of the venue located in the eastern Kakheti region were coming apart or decaying.

With the building having wooden structures for its stairs and balconies, the structures require repeated maintenance, Manager Roza Aptsiauri told the media outlet, adding sections of the stair and balcony structures could "collapse at any time".

She also told the reporters both the steps and load-bearing columns of the stairs needed replacement, in addition to the wooden floor that was missing parts of its panels following years of use.

The disintegrating wooden balcony handrails of the Museum. Photo: Giorgi Aladashvili/RFE/RL

Reinforcement and maintenance works on the building - a cultural heritage monument since 2000 - were last carried out 12 years ago, with parts of the roof replaced and some of the furniture restored in a ₾100,000 ($36,400) project.

Aptsiauri said other areas that required timely intervention included cracks in interior walls, showcases displaying items of the actor's parents requiring repairs, and some furniture items bearing signs of damage from age.

Museum staff said it had informed the Gurjaani City Hall over the matter, with Mayor Zurab Utiashvili confirming the issue to Radio Tavisupleba and issuing assurances on plans to rehabilitate the Museum.

The principal entrance to the venue has been closed due to the insecure condition of the stairs, with visitors led into the Museum from an alternate door. Photo: Giorgi Aladashvili/RFE/RL

Utiashvili said a working group at the City Hall was studying required expenses, but added a rehabilitation initiative would require permit from the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation, which has not responded to the local government offices since the latter's address over the issue last year.

On its part, Radio Tavisupleba said it had attempted to contact the Culture Ministry with questions about the matter, with the public relations department not returning their calls. Earlier this year the Ministry was noted for being the least responsive of state bodies to requests of public information, in a study by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information.

The Museum in Gurjaani is dedicated to preserving memorial items and history of the career of Vachnadze, a major name in the Soviet cinema in the first half of the 20th century who enjoyed Hollywood-like popularity on the big screen in the USSR.

Cast in dozens of film productions by famed Soviet directors between 1923-1952, she is recognised as a major figure in the history of the Soviet Georgian cinema, with photographs, documents, books and copies of films she featured in preserved at the Museum.