Narek Aleksanyan

Yerevan’s Underground Museum: Where Discarded Objects Get a Second Life

60-year-old Karen has turned a small corner in the basement of his Yerevan house to resemble an underground museum.

 "Only a few people here knew about Pink Floyd when my brother sent two "The Wall" CDs from Moscow in 1979. I went to the Rosiya Cinema where there was equipment to listen to them.  I was into Deep Purple and didn’t like Zeppelin much, but, of course, Pink Floyd made me even forget   about Deep Purple, " Karen Panyan recalls.

You can find hundreds of objects in Karen’s basement. Each of them has its own story.

The idea of ​​transforming the basement was purely accidental.

It all started when he had to repair the water pipes. He found a few kilograms of copper wire in the basement, sold them, and decided to spend the money on tidying up the basement.

The entrance

"I took extra stuff, which I didn’t want to discard, from the house to the basement. I arranged them and the assortment gradually increased," says Karen.

Sometimes acquaintances give him some things, but Karen finds most of the items in the collection around garbage bins. 

"It's not that I'm digging in the garbage bins. Sometimes people put the things they do not want right next to the garbage bins, and if I like them, I take them," says Karen. 

It’s cool here in the summer, and warm in the winter. 

These pipes are from a hardware shop. A polyethylene membrane is wrapped around them. When the membrane is sold, the tubes become garbage, while in Karen’s basement they serve as pillars for the ceiling.

"I have many things here, but I believe these bibles to be the most valuable. Imagine, someone had thrown them away," Karen says with surprise.

"There are many things that have no practical use now. They have been replaced by modern versions, but they are my story, the story and lifestyle of our generation,” says Karen. 

Toolkit collection 

The detail of the respirator being used as a picture frame.

You will no longer find any of these brushes in stores.

 Karen points to one of the unique items of his collection.

"Erebuni-Yerevan 2750". 

Spider webs are also part of the museum. They have a history of several decades. 

"I have only one dream. I want to go to Lake Van, dip my feet into the lake and eat a Van herring," Karen’s roots are from Van.

"I remember what I've seen. These things help me relive the past," Karen Panyan says.

This saw cut wood in the 90's.The sound of this radio keeps going in and out, but it's listenable.


Key collection 

"No steak is tenderized by this any longer. It’s pure oak. It used to infuse the smell of the wood to the meat".

 Rat skull 


"Solidified alcohol, kerosene stove, the 90s "

 Old military water tank.


The underground museum has eight different types of electric lamps and five candles.


The museum collection is regularly updated.


This part of the basement is still not renovated. It may become another exhibition hall of the museum in the future.


Some items already have their place here.


Karen says that few people know about this underground museum, where everything is carefully furnished and renovated. Visitors do not come here, as they do other museums. It’s just a space, which circumstances have turned into this.

"I don’t want many people to know about this place. Not everyone will appreciate it. If many come, it will turn into a barbeque place one day, and I don’t want that," Karen says.