Under the Spell of Mount Ararat: Armenian exhibition wins top prize in the Netherlands

“Under the Spell of Mount Ararat. Treasures from Ancient Armenia” exhibition at Drents Museum has been named the Best Exhibition of the Netherlands 2022.

The prize is presented annually by the Dutch Museumtijdschrift art magazine. A jury of experts decides on the ten nominees, after which the public is asked to vote. The winning museum receives a prize of 10,000 euros.

Marina de Vries, editor-in-chief of Museumtijdschrift (Museum Magazine), said: “We are honored that nearly 10,000 museum enthusiasts voted for the Exhibition of the Year in this fourth edition competition. Under the Spell of Mount Ararat become the convincing winner, which shows the special appreciation people have for archaeology.”

Harry Tupan, Director General of the Drents Museum, said: “It is very special that our exhibition Under the spell of Mount Ararat has won. The great thing about the Museumtijdschrift Exhibition Prize is that the public can vote. We see ourselves as the museum for the public, we focus on the visitor’s experience in the museum and not the objects.”

The exhibition opened at the Drents Museum on May 11 in the presence of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and will continue through October 30.

Visitors of Under the spell of Mount Ararat go on a journey through the rich history of Armenia. From the Stone Age, in which homo erectus travelled from Africa to Eurasia to settle in what is now Armenia, via the first important leaders who had themselves buried in monumental mounds around 1500 BC, and the Kingdom of Urartu, to the great realm of King Tiridates III (AD 287-330), who made Christianity the state religion. 

Gold and silver ornaments, weapons, pottery, and bronze figurines in the shape of animals and warriors provide an impression of the impressive archaeological wealth of Armenia, from the earliest times until the arrival of Christianity.

One of the exhibition’s highlights is a relic of Noah’s Ark. Saint Jacob of Nisibis is said to have found this piece of wood from the Ark at the foot of Mount Ararat in the 4th century AD. The relic is kept in the oldest cathedral in the world: Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia.

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