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AGBU Armenian Virtual College (AVC) and the Smithsonian Institution “My Armenia” Program, in collaboration with the City Research Center (Gyumri), introduced the first interactive multimedia virtual exhibition “From Kumayri to Gyumri”. The public launch took place online on December 15. This unique project was made possible thanks to the support of USAID and Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU).
The virtual exhibition presented as an e-book (e-Guide) features the most renown historical and cultural landmarks of Gyumri. It also introduces highly interactive 3-D and Virtual Reality maps, with dynamic analysis and nearby resource searching capabilities, rich visual content, and multilingual audio-listening options, for individuals virtually exploring Gyumri or supplementing their in-person visit. The e-Guide can be accessed at https://avc-agbu.org/kumayri/index.php.
“This exciting project creates new opportunities in terms of expanding awareness and access to the historical and cultural heritage of Gyumri, one of Armenia’s cultural hotspots,” said Astghik Marabyan, Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage and Folk Arts at the RA Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport.
Jeff Paretchan, Acting Office Director of USAID Armenia, referred to the project as “another example of a positive power of partnership,” adding “I remember many collaborations with AGBU, one of which was the e-book focusing on cultural and historical attractions of Vayots Dzor.”
In her welcoming remarks, AGBU Central Board Member and head of public relations, Arda Haratunian, indicated that “AGBU has four core pillars, which are culture, education, humanitarian, and socio-economic development, and showcasing the cultural heritage of Gyumri here fits beautifully into two of those pillars, culture and economic development, through tourism,” she also added “AVC has been a pioneer in technological innovation in Armenian virtual education. This new e-book is another proof of that.”
Sisak Mkhitaryan, Chief of Party at My Armenia Program, indicated “This virtual exhibition will be a driving force to develop the local and international tourism in Gyumri. We are deeply appreciative of the teamwork that helped bring this to life.”
“It has been wonderful to see this project come to life,” mentioned Lauren Appelbaum from the Office of International Relations at Smithsonian Institution during her closing remarks. She also added, “we have helped to create lasting material that can celebrate and share Armenia’s rich cultural heritage.”
Among the many distinguished speakers were Lilit Tovmasyan, Head of Cultural Department of Gyumri Municipality, Ashot Mirzoyan, Founding Director of Gyumri City Research Center, Liz Tunick, Office of International Relations at the Smithsonian Institution, and Dr. Richard Kurin, Acting Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, who also spoke about the importance of this project for the preservation of cultural and historical heritage, and the promotion of Gyumri as a tourism destination to local and international communities through innovative technologies.
During his immersive demonstration, the AGBU AVC Founding President & AGBU Central Board Member, Dr. Yervant Zorian, classified the new e-book as a successful continuation of the AVC Multimedia e-Book Series. “This time, it is in a beautiful story-map format with interactive multimedia content. AVC leveraged state-of-the-art innovative technological approaches and tools to virtualize the beautiful heritage of Gyumri.”
The current version of the e-Guide includes twelve landmarks situated in the historical Kumayri district of the city. More informative content and multilingual representation will be added over time to better present the rich historical and architectural heritage of Armenia’s cultural capital.
This virtual exhibition is part of AVC’s Multimedia e-Book Series developed in multiple languages and available for free download on smartphones, tablets, and PCs.
Watch the introductory video “From Kumayri to Gyumri” and the online launch recording .