Newport Museum Experts in Kutaisi

NEWPORT museum experts Mr. Ronald Inglish-Museums  and Heritage Officer, Newport County Borough Council and Mrs. Kate Hunter-Keeper of Conservation Newport Museum and Art Gallery, visited Kutaisi on 16-26 June  at the invitation of the Kutaisi Newport international Association.

Their visit to Kutaisi was financed by the museums and Galleries Commision in London.

The guests were met in at Tbilisi Airport by Mr Nukri Kvaratskhelia, Deputy Director of the Kutaisi State Museum of History and culture and I had pleasure in being their interpreter during their interpreter during their stay. The experts Mrs. Kate Hunter and Mr. Ronald Inglis studied the Kutaisi State Museum in detail, not only the collections but also the whole building. They were interested in the humidity, lighting and temperature of the building as well as number and quality of the exhibits. Our guests were aware that the richest stock has been preserved in the museum. Among them are valuable collections of archaeological findings: stone, bronze, iron tools and weapons, ornaments made from valuable metals and stones, various coltections of ceramic goods. The most interesting monuments for them were bronze fighting axes and filigree belt badges typical of Gelati and Paleastomi icons of the 10th -13th centuries in embossed gold and silver settings, a crossgonfalon of the 11th century, a five volume edition of the works of Joann Ksifilinos, etc. The museum fund contains over 8000 old manuscripts and 3000 ancient Georgian official documents.

The guests were received by Prof. Mikhail Nikoleishvili, the kutaisi State Museum Director , who accompanied them to the museum vaults, where they saw the richest library (25000 of the oldest books), textile and photo evidence, laboratory for conservation.

Kate and Roland liked  the system of documentation in the museum vault. (But they noticed that in the laboratory the staff used some acids for conservations of manuscripts which are dangerous and they also saw naphthalene in the store…)

At  the museum staff meeting our guests presented them with some technical equipment such as measuring instruments for dampness, lighting and temperature special paper to repel insects, many useful books and manuals.

The programme included a visit to the Picture Gallery, The Medical History Museum, and St. Nino School where they saw  a wonderful performance of ‘Cinderella’.

Kate Hunter and Ronald Inglis especially enjoyed their visit to Vani archaeological excavation. Prof. Omar Lanchava, Vice Rector of  KSU did his best to explain everything in detail.

During their stay in Kutaisi, they saw our famous architectural monuments: Bagrati Cathedral, Gelati Monastery and Motsameta Curch.

They also visited the Kutaisi Folklore palace, admired the concern given by young dancers and singers, and listened to our talented students in the Conservatoire.

And they English Speaking Club at the Kutaisi State University… The students and guests had an unforgettable evening together. Kate taught our student some English songs. On the same evening there was a lovely party arranged by the Kutaisi-Newport Association where the guests from Newport noticed that a new toast was added to the traditional Georgian ones (No 15). It was a toast to our Twinning Associations.

The museum experts had a meeting with the State Representative in the Imereti region, President of kutaisi-Newport association Mr. Teimuraz Shashiashvili. At the meeting they spoke about our wonderful collections, the museum problems and prospects for the development of tourism in Georgia.

In Tbilisi they had a very interesting meeting with Mr. Valery Asatiani, Minister of Culture of Georgia and his Deputies T.Gotsadze and O. Munjishvili.

Kate and Ronald spent two wonderful days sightseeing in Tbilisi. They particulary admired collections at the Georgian State Museum and Art  Gallery.

Ten days were not really enough for them to see all the interesting places in Georgia and they would like to come back again in the future.

Our Newport friends took with them a lot of photos and video materials.

Finally I would like to add that I admired their professional knowledge and their willingness to study our museums, heritage, culture and traditions of Georgia.

And I’dlike to thank Nukri  Kvaratskhelia for his help during the period and for his sense of humour  which made this visit so enjoyable and friendly.

Firstly, Ronald and Kate are working hard to fond opportunities for new travel grants and to plan future cultural exchanges.

Secondly, thanks to their report two members of the museum staff and an interpreter are invited for an exchange visit t Newport for four weeks.

And finally Kate and Ronald will advise the organization oflong training courses for Kutaisi key staff i Kutaisi or in Newport like TACIS.