The Armenian Higher Education Initiative (AHEI) is pleased to announce the completion of its third annual summer program, which brought together 20 of Armenia’s most promising young art historians for an intensive course taught by leading experts in the field. In addition, the 2014 program marked the launch of a new institutional partnership between the AHEI, the American University of Armenia, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Following a highly competitive application process, an elite group of graduate students and curators was selected to participate in the program, which included daily lectures given by Vardan Azatyan and Nazenie Gharibyan of the Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts. Drs. Azatyan and Gharibyan also hold positions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Yerevan and the The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, respectively. The program also included lectures delivered by visiting specialists from Gyumri, as well as curators from museums around Yerevan.
The primary goal of the program was to enrich participants’ knowledge of art historiography and further familiarize them with various subdivisions of the field. The group discussed sacred art, folk, contemporary, street art, Soviet interpretations, and other topics, including the concept of “center versus periphery” with the guest lecturers from outside Yerevan.
As their summative project, participants were divided into groups and asked to design a “model” museum that would include such features as chosen physical space, categories of art to be included, services offered, setting (urban versus rural), etc. The groups created initial models at the beginning of the course and were tasked with refining their ideas by the end of the program, utilizing concepts and methods learned throughout its course. Models were presented formally and defended to program lecturers. As the course participants represent the future of the field in Armenia, models will be preserved for possible implementation at a later date.
This summer, the AHEI staff also conducted a long-term feasibility study for all of its extracurricular projects. Staff members held interviews with leading experts in universities, think tanks, and other relevant institutions in order to gauge precisely what the existing needs are in terms of supplementary higher education in the country. The AHEI will use the results of this study as a basis for its future activities.