The Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography is an important depository of Georgian cultural objects. The museum is housed in one of the most stunning buildings in Tbilisi. It was designed by a well-known architect of the time, Paul Stern, and is a perfect example of gothic and Islamic architecture. A three-story tower, high merlons, decorated cornice, open terrace, and steep roofing combine to give the building an unusual look, which is most uncharacteristic of the architectural style of Tbilisi.
The history of the construction adds even more charm to the building. In 1882, German Prince Constantine Oldenburg (1850-1906) met a beautiful woman called Agraphina Japaridze in Kutaisi. At the time she was married to Georgian nobleman Dadiani. Prince Oldenburg confessed his love for her. Prince Oldenburg's confession turned Agraphina Japaridze's head; they eloped and left Kutaisi and went to settle in Tbilisi. Prince Oldenburg commissioned the building of the palace for his beloved as a token of his great affection for her. In 1927, the Museum of Theatre, founded by David Arsenishvili (1905-1963)- a famous Georgian public figure (later appointed as the First Director of the Andrei Rublev Museum in Moscow), was moved to the building. To date, this is the only museum of its kind in the Caucasus region and it is one that equals the world's leading museums in the wealth of its collection. The museum comprises more than 300,000 objects that provide comprehensive information on the development of Georgian theatre, cinema, circus, folklore, opera, and ballet, as well as providing insight into the lives of eminent figures in respective fields.
Some museum exhibits date back to the classical era: of particular note is the antique mask which was excavated by archeologists in the town of Vani.The Depository of Manuscripts and Archive Documents contains manuscripts of Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Alexander Kazbegi, Aleksandre Akhmeteli, Kote Marjanishvili, Pyotr Tchaikokovsky, Feodor Chaliapin, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Kept at the museum are the personal archives of great Georgian composers Dimitri Arakishvili, Zakaria Paliashvili, Vano Sarajishvili, playwright and founder of modern Georgian theatre Giorgi Eristavi, and film director and screenwriter Mikheil Chiaureli, as well as plays and translations of William Shakespeare into Georgian by Ivane Machabeli. The Depository of Books contains rare editions from the 17th to 19th centuries. Gramophone records, posters, and theatre and film costumes are also preserved. The Depository of Photos and Negatives includes unique materials of such prominent films as: Jim Shvante, Mamluk, and Giorgi Saakadze.
The Depository of Fine Arts has a rich collection of 16th- and 17th-century Persian miniatures, 18th-century French engravings, and the best examples of the old style of Tbilisi painting. The museum boasts the paintings and graphics of Léon Bakst, Alexander Benua, Fernand Liege, David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani, Peter Otskheli, and Irakli Parjiani.