Modern Art Museum was established in 1972 by the art critic Henrik Igityan, who was the director of the museum for 37 years. H. Igityan received a great support from the mayor of Yerevan of those years Grigor Hasratyan, as well as from the best Armenian artists of 1960s.
As a specialized museum of contemporary and modern art it became the first in the Soviet Union. For further 20 years it was unique modern art center in the above mentioned region. It became a favorite place for tourists and official guests of Yerevan. The first exposition was compiled of the works of the artists of 1960s both from Armenia and Diaspora, who have kindly donated their works to the museum.
The existence of the monopoly of the socialist realism in the Soviet Union prohibited modern art in all its expressions. Therefore, no financial assistance was provided by the Government of Armenia and museum was opened thanks to the artists’ donations.
The works of the generation of 1960s, in particular, Minas Avetisian, Ashot Hovhannisian, Martin Petrosian, Hakob Hakobian, Gayane Khachaturian, Vruyr Galstian, Henry and Robert Elibekyans, Harutyun Galents, Rudolf Khachatrian, Ashot Bayandour today also are the main axis of the museum exhibit.Later on the exposition was fulfilled with the works of the younger generation, the generation of 1980s: Sargis Hamalbashian, Arthur and Ararat Sargsians, Marine Dilanian, Albert Hakobian, Samvel Baghdasarian, Arevik Arevshatian, Ruben Grigorian, Kamo Nigarian, Armen Gevorgian, Tigran Matulian, Teni Vardanian, Gabriel Manoukian, Nina Kchemchyan, Ayvaz Avoyan etc.
In 2004 an American philanthropist Grigor Mouradian presented to the museum paintings and sculpture by Emil Kazaz, and in 2010 Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine bought for the museum sculptures by Garen Bedrossian from Canada.
All the above mentioned artists are enjoying a great reputation today not only in Armenia but also abroad, where they are often invited for solo exhibitions.
The publishing activity of the staff of the museum led by Henrik Igityan deserves a special attention. Recently were published series of albums, such as “Kochar”, “Alexandre Bazhbeuk-Melikian”,” From Hovnatanian to Minas”, “Museum”, “Armenian palette I”,” Armenian palette II”, “Minas Avetisian”, “Vruir Galstian”, “Ashot Hovhannisian”, “Modern Art Museum”, as well as individual catalogs of the artists of 1980s.
Today Modern Art Museum, as usual, is waiting for its visitors, who along with the visual acquaintance with Armenian modern art pieces can also get professional comments in Armenian, Russian and foreign languages.
Since foundation, the Museum was visited by many famous and popular personalities. All of them mentioned the fact that the museum has its own face, its original view at the world which makes it different from the many museums of the same kind. Among the visitors were the academician, director of Hermitage Boris Piotrovsky, writer Chingiz Aytmatov, Italian poet, writer and screenwriter Tonino Guerra, Mexican painter David Alfaro Sikeyros, Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian artist Renato Guttuzo, director of Bohum museum Peter Shpilman, as well as, William Saroyan, Tigran Mansuryan, Aghasi Ayvazian, etc.
The importance of the existence of the Museum was mentioned by a famous Russian art critic Alexander Kamenski in 1979: “… From the very beginning, the museum was a utopian idea. The initiators had neither a building for their exposition, nor the resources to buy art-works. They had, however, something more important and valuable. They believe that it is indispensable for Armenia to see and understand the new image of its contemporary art…”
Recently the collection of the Museum was enriched with the works of both Armenian and foreign masters, such as: Taline Zabounian (France), Sam Grigoryan (Germany), Harutyun Jinanyan (Jino) (Russia), Vatche Demirdjian (France), Lorent Nissou Soon (France), SYB (France), Christine Hagopian (France), Dibasar (France), Sharis Garabedian (France), Sebastiano (USA), Ziba Afshar (USA), Michael Gorman (USA), Garry John (USA), Karen Bistedt and Chris Brown (USA), Haik Mesropian (Switzerland), Onik Atamyan (England) etc.