The museum was officially established in 1922. Before that the whole collection of the Kutaisi Historical Ethnographic Museum was located in the house of its director Grigol Gvelesiani. After it was institutionalized it was moved to the building of the Kutaisi University and Triphon Japaridze was appointed as a director. In 1948 the museum was relocated to its own building on 1 Tbilisi Street – a two storey building from the 1860s, which belonged to the noble Nicolas Eristavi and was reconstructed in 1940. Today the Museum is moved to another building on 18 Pushkin Street.
Niko Berdzenishvili Kutaisi State History Museum houses over 190 000 items of cultural heritage of the country starting from the 9th – 8th century B.C. up to late medieval times. Among them are archaeological discoveries from western Georgia dating back to the Bronze Age and Antiquity Period, rare samples of Georgian, Roman, Byzantine and Oriental history, everyday life and cultural objects, a collection of old epigraphic monuments and Georgian manuscripts – rare charters, ethnographic materials, significant samples of goldsmith works, metalwork, ceramics, leather, glassworks, textiles and woodcuts.
Within the unique items held in the museum one can find a bronze sculpture of a man found in the village of Persati dating back to the 7th – 6 th century B.C. and a bronze statue of a woman found in the village of Geguti. The numismatic collection includes many remarkable items like silver Kolkhi didrachm (ancient Georgian coins) from the 5th century B.C., ancient Kolkhi didrachms from the 4th – 3rd century B.C., golden stater with an illustration of Alexander I of Macedon, coins from the times of George III, King Tamar and George the Brilliant (Georgian Kings).
There are remarkable samples of the medieval art of engraving: a silver stavrothek (a processional cross) from the 10th century and portrayal of Ascension and the Nativity of Jesus, bottoms of blast-furnace from the 11th century (found in Shorapani and Motsameta), an icon of Christ the Savior from the 12th – 13th century from Motsameta and number of goldsmith samples from the 17th – 18th centuries.
About 800 works are kept in the library in the museum. Most of them were received from churches and monasteries located in Western Georgia. The most remarkable are the apostolic – gospel performed on the parchment – dating back to the beginning of the 11th century; a Georgian translation of the five-volume hagiographic collection by John Csipilinosis (11th century), copied in the 15th century; John Chrysostoms exegetical papers translated by Ekvtime Atoneli in 1047-1053 copied in the Katskhi Monastery by Gabriel Kotay; collection made on parchment in 13th century, which contains "Asmukhledi" translated from Greek by Ephrem the Small in 11th century and "Hymns Vardzia Virgin" by John Shaveli (12th century.) "A Great Religious Law" translated from Greek in the 12th century in Gelati by Arsene Ikaltoeli; "Dogmatikon" copied in the 12th – 13th centuries; the "Book of Bread" by Joseph Glavios translated by John Petritsi in the 12th century; the oldest List copied in the 16th century. Kutaisi Museum houses: 8 manuscripts of famous “Knight in Pinter’s Skin” by Shota Rustaveli, manuscripts of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani's and King Vakhtang VI’s works.
The Museum keeps private archives of several notable public figures: Cyril Lordkipanidze, George Zdanovich, Alexander Garsevanishvili, Dmitry Nazarishvili, David Meskhi, Trifon Japaridze and others. In its collection there are also archives from Gelati and Motsameta Monasteries, the Diocesan Office in Kutaisi, Georgian Gymnasium, the Historical – Ethnographic Society of Kutaisi, Chiatura Black Stone Produsers Council and other institutions. The library of the museum houses 40 000 books.
The Museum has a lot of its own publications. It publishes many newspapers like: “Museum News”, “Museum’s Chronicles”, “Kutaisi’s Archaeology”, “What the Museum items tell us”, “Gelati Treasure”, “Georgian Churches Treasure”, “Kutaisi Museum’s Manuscripts”, “From the History of South Caucasus Railway”, “Mose Gabashvili-Bibliophile”, “Antique materials from Kutaisi Museum”, “The Gospel” (manuscript, 1060) and an annual magazine “Khidi” (Bridge).
Address: 18 Pushkini Street, 4600, Kutaisi
Working hours: 09:00–18:00, Everyday