Sergei Parajanov Museum


For something totally unique, head to this museum near Hrazdan Gorge. Crammed with collages, drawings, photographs and assemblages created by the experimental film-maker best known for his 1969 film Sayat Nova (aka The Colour of Pomegranates), it is as eccentric as it is engaging. Housed in an attractive 19th-century timber house, the collection manages to evoke Parajanov's prodigious talent, humour and humanity while at the same time illustrating the difficulties faced by artists, film-makers and writers living in the USSR.

Born in 1924 in Tiflis (Tbilisi), Parajanov moved to Moscow in 1945 to study film-making. His early career was blighted when he was convicted of homosexuality (then illegal) in 1948, a charge that many of his friends and supporters considered bogus. After being released from jail and living in Ukraine for a few years, he moved to Yerevan in the late 1960s. Two more criminal charges were levied against him in 1973 (for rape and producing pornography) and he was sentenced to five years of hard labour in a Siberian jail.

While in prison, he used his fingernails to make faces in aluminium milk-bottle lids and called them 'thalers'. One of these can be found in the museum and a silver replica is given as an award at the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival.

Parajanov was eventually released after a high-profile international campaign for his freedom, supported by artists including Françoise Sagan, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovsky, Louis Aragon and John Updike. Parajanov died in Yerevan in 1990.