Cafesjian Museum of Contemporary Art

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The Cafesjian Center for the Arts is dedicated to bringing the best of contemporary art to Armenia and presenting the best of Armenian culture to the world. Inspired by the vision of its founder, an Amercian philanthropist of Armenian origin [Mr. Gerard L. Cafesjian][1], the Center offers a wide variety of exhibitions, derived from Mr. Cafesjian’s own extensive collection of contemporary art. Having celebrated its grand opening in November 2009, CCA continues to exhibit unique works of modern art and offers a diverse program of visiting lecturers, films, concerts, and numerous educational initiatives for adults and children. In 2010 the Cafesjian Center for the Arts had 950,000 visitors.

The Cascade Complex

The building that now houses the Cafesjian Center for the Arts is well known to the Armenian people, especially those living in its capital city of Yerevan. Known as “The Cascade,” the complex was originally conceived by the architect Alexander Tamanyan (1878–1936). Tamanyan desired to connect the northern and central parts of the city—the historic residential and cultural centers of the city—with a vast green area of waterfalls and gardens, cascading down one of the city’s highest promontories. Unfortunately, the plan remained largely forgotten until the late 1970s, when it was revived by Yerevan’s Chief Architect, Jim Torosyan. Torosyan’s conception of the Cascade included Tamanyan’s original plan but incorporated new ideas that included a monumental exterior stairway, a long indoor shaft containing a series of escalators, and an intricate network of halls, courtyards, and outdoor gardens embellished with numerous works of sculpture bearing references to Armenia’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Construction of Torosyan’s design of the Cascade was launched by the Soviets in the 1980s but abandoned after the Armenian earthquake of 1988 and the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. With independent rule and the transition to democracy, Armenia entered a period of severe economic hardship, and the Cascade remained a neglected relic of the Soviet era for more than a decade. Mr. Cafesjian, working with the City of Yerevan and the government of the Republic of Armenia, initiated its recent revitalization in 2002. Over the next seven years, virtually every aspect of the monument was renovated, and much of it completely reconstituted into a Center for the Arts bearing the name of its principal benefactor.


The majority of exhibitions presented by the Cafesjian Center for the Arts are derived from the private collection of its main benefactor, Mr. Gerard L. Cafesjian. This collection of more than 5,000 works includes one of the most comprehensive glass collections in the world.

It is particularly rich in the work of the Czech couple Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, whose collaborative work revolutionized the use of glass as an artistic medium. Other important glass artists in the collection include Dale Chihuly, Bohumil Elias, Pavel Hlava, Jaromír Rybák, Ivana Šrámková, Bertil Vallien, Lino Tagliapietra, Mark Peiser, and Hiroshi Yamano. The collection also has substantial holdings in drawing, painting and sculpture by such influential artists as Fernando Botero, Arshile Gorky, Jennifer Bartlett, Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, Jaume Plensa and François-Xavier Lalanne.

Exhibitions and Programs

The Cafesjian Center for the Arts runs a busy exhibition and programming schedule. Besides the permanent exhibitions, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts hols various temporary exhibitions, disclosing international and Armenian artists. Exhibitions of works by Arshile Gorky, Libenský Brychtová, Hagop Hagopian, Victor Vasarely and others were important cultural occurrences in Armenia.

The exhibitions are supplemented by various programs, targeted to children and adults. Through its free educational programs the Cafesjian Center for the Arts seeks to involve the visitors in creative process, to open up the doors to the world of art and culture.

The Center also runs two musical programs, the Music Cascade and the Cafesjian Classical Music Series, presenting the best musical talent in Armenia.

Installation of New Sculptures at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.

August 01, 2012

Throughout the summer, tourists and residents of Yerevan will enjoy the installation of a remarkable group of new sculptures at the Cafesjian Center for the Arts, including the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden, Cascade Complex and the green above Monument Terrace. These sensational sculptures are additions to the Gerard L. Cafesjian Collection and are arriving by sea, land and air from London, Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Miami and Hong Kong. Included are major works by Fernando Botero, Barry Flanagan, Jim Unsworth, and Peter Hill Jones, among others.

Some are already in place to the delight of tourists and residents alike. The massive sculpture, Circus, by British artist Jim Unsworth, on the green above Monument Terrace, features three balancing elephants performing in a circus ring. The circus theme has inspired the artist for some time and the elephant in particular is featured in most of his recent work. Also on the Monument green is The Little House, a charming and delightful creation by Peter Hill Jones. Constructed of real building materials, the work is site specific with the green itself becoming part of the sculpture; forming the lawn and garden surrounding this diminutive bit of architectural whimsy. A covey of exotic bird sculptures will soon grace another part of the green as well.

One of Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s most important works, Mujer Fumando, will be installed in the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden. Two wonderful works by British artist Barry Flanagan, Gendrd I / Gendrd II, will join the array of other Flanagan works already in the Garden. Atop the head of the two elephants, hares perform with typical Flanagan aplomb.

Following a long engagement on Broadway, Verdi Square in New York City, where it delighted New Yorkers, American artist Peter Woytuk’s big blue Kiwi will find a home in the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden opposite Botero’s popular Gatto (Cat). It is sure to delight children and visitors of all ages.

A cool, white marble Polar Bear, by Chinese artist Zhaohui Liu, has already joined Lion 2, by Korean artist Ji Yong-Ho, on the Cascade in reminding visitors that art can also convey concerns about nature and the manmade environment, as well as please the eye.

Inside the Cascade, the Center’s Escalator Gallery will also present new works, including sculptures by California artist Laddie John Dill and Otto Rigan from Arizona. New additions to the extraordinary designs for seating collection will intrigue visitors with their innovation and humor as they ride the Cascade’s escalator through this unique gallery space.

The Cafesjian Center for the Arts cordially invites tourists and residents to enjoy summer in Yerevan discovering all the new artwork; a part of the Center’s mission to present contemporary art in keeping with the Cafesjian legacy for Armenia.



The Cafesjian Center for the Arts[2] The Armenian Reporter, November 14, 2011: [Victor Vasarely's Optical Perspectives in Yerevan] [3] A1Plus, November 19, 2011[Teaching children to visit museums][4] ArtKnowledge News:[The Cafesjian Center for the Arts Displays Exhibitions of Contemporary Glass Sculpture][5], February 2, 2011: [Year of Living Artfully: Cafesjian center recounts successful first full year][6] Lragir, September 30, 2011: [The Cafesjian Center for the Arts Presents Two New Sculptures][7]