The Azerbaijan National Art Museum

The Azerbaijan National Art Museum

The Azerbaijan National Art Museum is a treasure house that preserves our national moral values and cultural heritage. This treasure house, holding more than 17,000 artistic exhibits, has a rich working history. The Art department was separated from the Azerbaijan State Museum in 1936 and organized as an independent museum by decision of the Council of People's Commissars. The first exhibits were collected for the museum during expeditions and some were purchased. In 1937 the opening ceremony of the museum’s first exhibition took place and in 1951 the museum was moved to the Baroque-style De Bour mansion built at the end of the 19th century.

In 2006 thorough restoration work was carried out to the building and in 2009 a new exhibition was opened. In 2011 the museum was declared to be of first National and then European Museum Standard (EUMS), meeting international standards and criteria, as appropriate for a museum and implying high quality museum services and professional experience; this was by unanimous decision of the Council of Directors of the European Economic Chamber of Trade, Commerce and Industry – EEIG - located in Brussels.

In the past the museum was headed by the well-known People's Artist of Azerbaijan Salam Salamzade (1936-1943), followed by People's Artist and Honoured Art Worker K. Kazimzade (1943-1992); it is currently led by Honoured Art Worker of Azerbaijan, Professor Chingiz Farzaliyev.

The museum’s work is conducted by the following departments:

  1. The collection department
  2. The exposition department
  3. The scientific-mass works department (school department)
  4. The scientific research department
  5. The department for the application of innovations to the work of the museum
  6. The exhibition and design department
  7. The scientific renovation department

The museum has an extensive library which has almost 9,000 scientific books and monographs, catalogues, albums and other professional literature. There is also a rare books collection of old publications.

Exhibits preserved in the collection of Azerbaijan National Art Museum include antique works of art that date from the 4th century BC. Ceramic bowls decorated with archaic ornamentation found in Nakhchivan, Mingachevir, Fuzuli and Khanlar (now Goy-gol); decorative lamps and glazed tiles of the Seljuq period; parts of the friezes from the 13th century Bayil castle; 14th-18th century chests found in Absheron and Shamakhi; fine manuscripts about the Qur’an and 16th century books about astrology; original 17th-18th century Tabriz miniatures in tempera, gold water and watercolour; works by the celebrated artists Mir Mohsun Navvab, Mirza Qadim Irevani, Usta Qambar Qarabaghini, by the first professional artists in Azerbaijan and by our contemporaries; artistic metal items from the 16th and 17th centuries and samples of original fabric, embroidery, national costume and carpets and jewellery from the 18th-20th centuries are preserved here. Besides these national treasures, the examples of statuary, fine and graphic arts and other decorative-applied arts of Western Europe (France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Flanders, Denmark, Spain), the East (Iran, Turkey, Japan, China, India, Egypt, Middle East) and Russia that are preserved in the collection reflect the artistic history of various nations.

The collections of our republic’s many famous museums and those of other CIS countries were created and enlarged upon this museum’s scientific and material foundation. Art works were given for permanent use to the Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature in 1967, the Azim Azimzade house museum in 1968, the Azerbaijan State Museum of Carpets and Applied Arts in 1985, the Bahruz Kengerli Art Gallery in the Nakhchivan AR in 2001-2005 and, at the same time, to the Russian Ethnographic Museum in Saint-Petersburg.

There is constant research to add to the collections and international and republic-wide exhibitions are organised for visitors of all categories. One such exhibition, organised in Azerbaijan for the first time was called "At the Turn of Centuries".

The museum has a great tradition in the organization of exhibitions of international level. So, over the past years it has welcomed collections from the Russian Tretyakov Gallery, the Kolomensk Museum Reserve, the Tver Art Gallery, the State Ceramics Museum, the 18th century Kuskovo Mansion Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in England and folk and other art works from the People's Republic of China in its expositions. An exhibition which was organized with the Austrian Ministry of Culture, Art and Education was devoted to various forms of creative search and presentation of European art in the museum’s exposition.

A significant event in 2012 was the exhibition "The Spirit of Budo: the history of Japanese martial arts" organized with the patronage of the Japanese Foundation and the Japanese Embassy in Azerbaijan.

Various works from the museum’s collection have promoted the art of Azerbaijan in almost 40 countries. The catalogues and booklets prepared and scientific articles written for every exhibition are preserved in the museum and serve as sources for much scientific research. The book "The Azerbaijan National Art Museum" published in 2010 is a perfect example of its type. Further, this fine treasure house, preserving original works of art guarantees the future publication of various books.

Many tasks lie ahead for the museum. There are new exhibitions to be organized from the museum’s extensive collection and the new books, magazines and catalogues to be published will serve the enlightenment of youth, and the preservation, research and promotion of the values held by both our nation and the world.