for collecting rainwater share space with
With the Lincy Foundation-funded renovation of
Armenia's major houses of culture coming to an
end, the neglect of those places not fortunate
enough to be included in the $17.5 million project
becomes more obvious.
The miserable condition of the home of writer
Khachatur Abovyan, located in Yerevan's Qanaqer
district, is an example. Relics of the founder
of Modern Armenian literature, the pioneer of
educating people in Ashkharhabar (New Armenian)
are on the edge of extinction.
Metal gates and fences surrounding the museum
have been stolen and sold, and the yard belonging
to the museum (Abovyan's statue is also placed
there) has become a trash heap, public toilet,
playground, gathering place for drunks and even
a chicken coop.
The museum consists of two buildings - the actual
house where in 1809 Khachatur Abovyan was born,
and the museum building constructed during the
museum to the great wrier was built in the
The paternal home of Abovyan today is a half
ruined building with stolen doors and windows,
from where management of the museum has taken
all the show items. All the drunks of the neighborhood
are gathering here every night, have parties and
use the great writer's home for their natural
needs. Pieces from the buildings are burned as
campfires, turning 200 years of history into ashes.
"Even police of the region cannot stop them.
Recently they've severely beaten up the guard
who tried to stop their misbehaving," says
the director of the museum, historian Hovhannes
The situation leaves little choice but for the
historians to become caretakers.
"At the end of working day each one of us
takes a plastic bag to clear rubbish brought by
neighbors from the territory of the museum,"
says the director.
Zatikyan has many times asked police for help,
however with no result. There are no gates protecting
the territory, so there's no security.
It's been a year that Zatikyan is the director
of this half ruined museum, inheriting a load
of debts and unsolvable problems.
director calls it "a long-suffering
It's not only the absence of gates that has given
freedom to neighbors; they were provided with
an exceptional right to use electricity and phone
lines for free. Through some ways unclear to specialists,
people living in houses nearby connected to the
museum's electricity and phone lines and the management
of the museum, despite its sparse budget, has
to pay debts of over $300 several times a year.
"Managers of Armentel can't even imagine
how someone can dial through my line. The calls
are from your numbers, so you have to pay,"
Together with the wild surrounding, the wind
and rains are also damaging the museum. In 1985
the roof was torn off by wind. As a result of
the previous director's indifference, until now
the building has no roof, while the roofs of neighboring
houses are built with the very roofing slate that
was once covering the museum.
Because there's no roof, buckets and basins are
predominant items displayed in showrooms. The
temperature inside is practically the temperature
outside. But inside are some 6,000 historical
items and paintings that cannot survive such impossible
Since 1985 there's been no water at the museum;
even the toilet does not work. Zatikyan does not
have the blueprints of the water system, and says
that specialists cannot figure out how to locate
Despite this extreme situation the museum has
visitors. According to the historians, they're
doing everything for schoolchildren to come and
have open classes dedicated to Abovyan. Nowadays,
there's a city competition on Armenian language
and literature taking place at the museum.
"This museum is the only cultural house
in Qanaqer. There's a 200-seat hall and other
conveniences to carry out events," points
out Zatikyan. The director has great plans of
making the museum a cultural center for the region,
publishing a scientific magazine, organizing various
contests, but all of that will be possible only
"The cultural program of the Lincy Foundation
has done calculations for renovation, and if the
program has a second stage, our long-suffering
building will finally look like a museum,"