When I first entered I felt just like Alice in Wonderland… Little eggs turn into silkworms, eat dozens of mulberry leaves and, when they grow, start to work hard to make cocoons; they move like the number eight and have approximately 4000 muscles! Then the silkworms turn into pupae, later into butterflies and silk is produced from these cocoons. What a bizarre story and I knew almost nothing about it before stepping into the State Silk Museum!
One of the oldest among Georgia’s museums, the State Silk Museum was established at the end of the XIX century by Russian natural scientist Nikolai Shavrov and is located in a beautiful building, constructed by well-known Polish architect Alexander Shimkevich. The museum has a wide exposition – depicting an interesting process of sericulture and silk production. The collection includes textile from different countries, beautiful silk laces, a dye collection, looms and various objects connected to silk. You can also enter the special room of a mulberry tree and check out unique photographs by the XIX century famous photographer Konstantin Zanis, who tried his best to catch all significant moments of silk production in the Caucasian region and also shot women in different silk clothing.
A museum library: one step in and you enter in a totally different world – awesome furniture dating back to the XIX century and a unique collection of books in more than twenty languages. The Museum furniture was made according to sketches by the architect, and one interesting fact is that the library bookcase has the same shape as the building itself.
The State Silk Museum is a real historical artifact with its marble entrance and SALVE inscription (Welcome, in Latin) on the floor, long windows, cracks on the ceiling, but apart from its antique atmosphere, this institution is in a dialogue with contemporary art, housing interesting projects and exhibitions, educational programs and workshops. There is also a studio producing different accessories from cocoons and other material.
There are not many silk museums worldwide, so while planning your trip in Georgia, try to visit the State Silk Museum located at #6 Tsabadze Street, near Dynamo Stadium. The Museum is especially active at the end of the spring and in the summer, when apart from the main exposition, it is possible to view the silkworms themselves as they make their cocoons and moving just like the number eight.