By the unanimous decision of the UNESCO Executive Board, the collection of works by Komitas Vardapet has been included in the Memory of the World International Register. The presentation of "Labour Songs" volume of the “A Thousand and One Songs" collection of Armenian folk songs was held at Komitas Museum-Institute, and the VR exhibition “Komitas’ Study” was launched.
This was announced at the press conference convened at Komitas Museum-Institute by RA Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Zhanna Andreasyan, RA Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vahan Kostanyan, Director of Komitas Museum-Institute Nikolay Kostandyan, Head of the Scientific Department Tatevik Shakhkulyan, author of the “Komitas’ Study” VR project, museologist Marina Haroyan and Chairman of the Management Board of “Ardshinbank” CJSC Artak Ananyan.
ESCS Minister Zhanna Andreasyan expressed her gratitude to the partners and the research team noting: “The fact that the collection of works by Komitas Vardapet has been included in the Memory of the World International Register by the unanimous decision of the UNESCO Executive Board, is the result of a consistent state policy. A significant aspect of the procedure involves extensive research, ensuring that the application is properly prepared in compliance with international standards.”
According to the Minister, continuous work is carried out for the popularization of both tangible and intangible heritage, especially to include on relevant international platforms - UNESCO lists. The Minister stated that the tradition of blacksmithing in Gyumri is registered as an intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO, the process of assigning a status of enhanced protection as part of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict to Tatev and the Great Hermitage of Tatev Monastery Complexes and the group of monuments of the Vorotan River Gorge has been launched.
According to Zhanna Andreasyan, a specific allocation has been made in the State Budget for application preparation. The lists of applications, for which work will be carried out, have already been clarified.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, Vahan Kostanyan congratulated on the important event and noted that the Ministry is committed to the internationalization of cultural heritage. According to him, back in 2019, the 150th anniversary of Komitas Vardapet was included in the list of the UNESCO Calendar of Anniversaries of Eminent Personalities and Important Events. “Exceptionally valuable documentary samples are listed in the Memory of the World International Register. The main objective of this program is to prevent the loss of valuable collections of existing archives and libraries around the world and to promote their effective protection and wide dissemination. Previously, the initial studies of Byurakan Observatory, collections of Matenadaran manuscripts, and Aram Khachaturian’s works were included in this prestigious list. First and foremost, the inclusion of Komitas' works in the Memory of the World International Register is the result of many years of joint work,” said the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
According to Vahan Kostanyan, the 100th anniversaries of Charles Aznavour and Sergei Parajanov are included in the UNESCO Calendar of Anniversaries of Eminent Personalities and Important Events for the 2024-2025 cycle.
According to the Director of Komitas Museum-Institute Nikolay Kostandyan, January 29 is symbolic for the museum: this date marks the museum's opening nine years ago. “This year also marks the 155th anniversary of Komitas, for which we have been planning extensive programs. We are bound by the fact that Komitas Vardapet's collection of work is listed in the Memory of the World International Register. This has been an 8-year consistent work in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the museum,” noted Director of Komitas Museum-Institute Nikolay Kostandyan.
Tatevik Shakhkulyan, the head of the museum's scientific department, in turn, mentioned the significant interest of international researchers in Komitas Vardapet’s art, highlighting the need to register the collection. She additionally informed that a new series of publications of Komitas' works has begun, in which internationalization and accessibility enhancements are important.
Tatevik Shakhkulyan also introduced the collection “Labor Songs”(Ashkhatankayin yerger) from the series of Armenian folk songs “A Thousand and One Song” (Hazar u mi yerg).
“The museum regularly runs educational programs, and foreign participants encountered language barriers. To fill this gap, we have launched a publication of a series of volumes. Each volume has fifty examples of Armenian folk music, each with a distinct genre and corresponding images,” said Tatevik Shakhkulyan.
“Komitas’ Study” VR Exhibition
Nikolay Kostandyan highlighted the VR exhibition “Komitas's study” as a notable achievement of the museum.
“The project provides an opportunity to access the study of Komitas Vardapet in Constantinople through VR glasses. The virtual study's interior, which was produced using 3D modelling, includes Komitas' piano and physharmonica in addition to other personal items. The virtual tour includes an interactive element and the entire process is enhanced by informative material about Komitas, including recordings of his voice. The modelling was done based on the scale model created by Komitas' student, Aram Astvatsatryan. The latter worked at Byurakan Observatory for many years. In 2019, the Union of Composers donated the scale model to the museum,” said Nikolay Kostandyan.
ESCS Minister Zhanna Andreasyan emphasized the significance of the virtual exhibition becoming a reality through collaboration with a private company, in this instance “Ardshinbank” CJSC.
“Collaboration with the private sector demonstrates the efficiency and potential of joint work. I hope that both private partners and other museums will find this to be a fine example,” said Minister Zhanna Andreasyan.
According to her, as contemporary technologies permeate the cultural sector, they open up new possibilities for museums and make visits more interactive: “Visitors will discover Komitas' study in a new way and have the chance to learn more about his everyday activities. This is a unique experience, particularly for children, making their knowledge even more impressive. Our children will only benefit from the parallel educational process and interactive educational programs in museums.”
According to Artak Ananyan, Chairman of the Management Board of “Ardshinbank” CJSC, the “Komitas’ Study” virtual exhibition is a small investment aimed at popularizing Komitas' legacy, which represents not only Armenian but also world value: “We must prioritize the preservation of our cultural values and ensure their transmission to future generations. Our collaboration will be ongoing.”
The author of “Komitas’ Study” VR project, museologist Marina Aroyan, stated that the scale model of Komitas' study was created based on the memories of his student Aram Astvatsaturyan, as well as the recollections of Komitas' contemporaries, particularly Aghavni Mesropyan. It is based on Komitas’ items, so there is no deviation.
It should be mentioned that the virtual glasses project was implemented with the technical support of the “ARLOOPA” company (co-founder Arman Atoyan).
Aram Astvatsaturyan's student Henrik Sargsyan who had collaborated with his mentor on creating the scale model also attended the press conference. Henrik Sargsyan stated that his master had created the scale model in 1968 and completed it in 1969 to honour the 100th anniversary of Komitas. Komitas's study in the Constantinople House is introduced.