This project is organized and run by the Kumayri Museum-Preserve & Aslamazyan Sisters' Gallery
Director, Kumayri Museum Preserve
Armen was born in 1988, trapped in one of the collapsed buildings following the earthquake, and has spent much of his life working to improve conditions in his hometown of Gyumri. He studied in both Armenia and the US and currently works with the Gyumri Project Hope charitable foundation, trying to raise awareness of the thousands of residents still living in “temporary” container homes.
Armen founded the TravelGyumri tour agency, which provides visitors with all information needed to tour Gyumri and the Shirak province. He is also an avid photographer, working to show the world the beauty of Armenian architecture, landscape and culture. He is currently working on a photo documentary about the daily struggle for survival of those still living in container home communities. He is AiP's onsite project partner.
Director, Kumayri Museum Preserve
Interpreter, International Team Coordinator
Knights of Vartan Fund for Armenian Studies
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR)
DBL US$1,380 | SGL +US$175 for 7-day session
Optional 4-day Armenia tour +US$600
Discounts! Past participants always receive a discounted tour fee
Check out AiP's Loyalty Program
Additional Cost Information:
Costs are per person per 7-day session.
4-day tour is priced separately.
Your fee includes:
- All ground transportation, including airport pick-up and drop-off
- All meals
- Excursions during 7-day session
All participants are responsible for:
- Airfare to Yerevan, Armenia
- Visa if required
- Travel health insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage. Send AiP proof of purchase.
Preserve Gyumri’s Wooden Balconies
Date: Series of five one-week sessions beginning May 21, 2017; followed by optional 4-day tour
Learn building conservation techniques as you help preserve wooden balconies of Gyumri, Armenia, restoring a key feature of the fabulous architectural heritage
Why Volunteer in Armenia
Both blessed and cursed by its location in the Southern Caucasus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, Armenia’s rich cultural traditions survive despite the conflicts and the natural disasters that have befallen it.
The Gyumri, Armenia, municipality designated the Gyumri historic district as the Kumayri Cultural Museum-Preserve in 1980. The registry includes 1,200 historically significant structures, from housing to educational and industrial facilities to public buildings.
Disaster struck in 1988 when the Spitak earthquake devastated the city, including its historic core. More than half the city was destroyed and 17,000 people died. In the 28 years since the earthquake, disaster relief and basic housing have been the primary concerns, leaving little funding to deal with the museum-preserve’s seriously damaged structures.
The municipality recognizes the important role of the historic district in creating economic growth through heritage tourism. Tourism is key to creating jobs in the city, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Armenia. Gyumri desperately needs the jobs that restoration and heritage tourism will bring. In 2015, funding finally became available for building documentation and conservation to get underway!
Balcony Conservation & Building Documentation – Project and Need
In 2016, AiP jammers began documentation work alongside Gyumri Project Hope teams – students and professionals from across Armenia – and sent back reports of their amazing experience. We are pleased to again offer you the opportunity to join this project run by the Kumayri Museum-Preserve and Aslamazyan Sisters’ Gallery with session dates to fit everyone’s schedule.
Work in 2017 will focus on conservation of one of Gyumri’s few remaining traditional wooden balconies, located at the Gallery of Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan built in the early 19th century. The gallery has been operating since 1987 when the sisters presented the city with 620 of their original paintings. After the 1988 earthquake, the second floor provided housing for people who had lost their homes. In 2004, the building was restored to its use as a gallery and art museum with funds from the Lincy foundation.
Jammers will also take on documentation at two locations within Kumayri Cultural Museum-Preserve – the Aslamazyan Sisters’ Gallery and a newly discovered church buried under 18th and 19th century buildings. Documentation will consist of taking measurements and photographs and making architectural drawings.
It is possible that some sessions will offer jammers the opportunity to assist with archaeology work that is underway. This is dependent on funding, so may or may not be available during your session.
Primary Project Goals for 2017:
- Document the gallery’s interior & exterior walls, with focus on wooden balcony
- Document small church just discovered in 2016
- Preserve wooden balcony
- Assist with archaeology as funding allows
I really like traveling this way and working and meeting professionals and this sort of program allows this. — Sue Robinson, 2015
How You Will Help the Community
In joining this adventure in preservation, you will develop building documentation and conservation skills and will also benefit the people of Gyumri in significant ways.
- Your efforts will move the project one step closer to collecting information on over one thousand 18th and 19th century architecturally significant buildings.
- You will help restore one of the oldest & largest traditional balconies, one of the last in the heart of Gyumri.
- You will help attract much-needed investment in the city and fight urban flight
- You will contribute to the boost in tourism, vitally important to Gyumri’s economic growth.
Armen has given tours of the city and museums and is an absolute encyclopedia of knowledge about Armenia and Gyumri. He cares deeply about this city and this country and they are lucky to have his quick wit and kind smile here. — Lisa Harper 2016
Lodging and Meals
Lodging is provided at the historic Villa Kars, conveniently located within walking distance of the Kumayri Historic District, an outdoor market, restaurants and cafés, museums, and ancient churches.
Breakfast is provided at the Villa Kars. Lunches and dinners will be eaten at local restaurants.
Excursions and Free Time
Special activities are planned for several evenings, including local tours and meeting with craftsmen. Short excursions during the work week will focus on the Shirak region around Gyumri. Those interested may tour the home of Fourth Way spiritual leader, G.I. Gurdjieff. Many travel to Gyumri each year to visit the source of his teachings on the harmonious development of mankind.
After a full week of building documentation work in Gyumri, you may want to discover even more of this beautiful country. Enhance your adventure with a 4-day tour around Armenia led by a trained tour guide from Gyumri Travel. Simply select the option at the time of registration.
- May 21-28; optional tour runs May 29-June 1
- June 18-25; optional tour runs June 26-29
- July 16-23; optional tour runs July 24-27
- August 13-20; optional tour runs August 21-24
- September 17-24; optional tour runs September 25-28
Please schedule your arrival for the first day of the session. Airport pick-up will be arranged when we receive your flight schedule.
Flights to Armenia arrive in Yerevan at Zvartnots International Airport. Please plan to arrive the first day of the session. Depending on the time of your arrival, you may spend your first night in a hotel in Yerevan; or, you may go directly to Gyumri. Airport pick-up and transportation to Gyumri will be arranged once you register.
A visa may be required depending on your country of origin. In 2016, travelers from the US did not need a visa. Be sure to check the visa requirements for your country, as requirements may change from year to year.
Contact us if you have additional questions.
If you would like assistance with travel arrangements, contact Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters, AiP’s partnering travel agency.
If you have any questions or would like to chat with an AiP staff member about joining this cultural heritage experience, contact us at email@example.com or call us at +1 303-444-0128.