For almost a year, I’ve been living in Tbilisi, Georgia’s endearing capital city.
Historically, the place has been sitting at a literal and metaphorical crossroads for a long ol’ time, making it one of the most important, influential and storied cities in the world… and therefore a good place for hopping between loads of museums.
So in this guide, I’ve brought you the 15 best museums in Tbilisi. Expect strange art, interesting artifacts, questionable selfies, a big bunch of illusions, and an outdoor interactive experience.
These make for a perfect plan on snowy days in Tbilisi.
Smack on those spectacles, bring a passion for perusal, and come join the intelligent excitement!
1. Georgian National Museum
Given the name of this place, I’d be making a mistake if I kicked off our list in any other way.
Also known as the ‘Museum of Georgia’ (how imaginative), the Georgian National Museum is the biggest in the city, and it’s the best introduction to the nation.
Inside, you’ll find archaeological stuff (including weapons, jewelry, and other ornate offerings), Stone Age relics (featuring skulls, bones and models), and an animal-packed selection of regional biodiversity exhibits. If you’re looking for a natural history museum in Tbilisi, it’s the closest you’ll get.
But the place is most well-known for its top-floor exhibition, which features excellent information on the Soviet history of Georgia, Stalin, Lenin, and lots of other people and places. Known as the ‘Soviet Occupation Exhibition Hall,’ it has some of the best Soviet stuff I’ve ever seen.
Obviously, if you want to learn about the history of Georgia and its people, this place is one of the best museums in Tbilisi.
2. The National Gallery of Georgia
From the National Museum to the National Gallery.
Right beside the Georgian National Museum, this is the most famous art museum in the city.
Most of the exhibits are on Niko Pirosmani and Irakli Parjiani, two mega-famous Georgian artists (though you’ll also find work by Lado Gudiashvili, David Kakabadze, and some other local names).
Most people just come here for the Niko Pirosmani stuff—he’s by far the nation’s most famous artist. Aside from some of his works, the gallery also features information on his life… and the optional audio guide is good if you’re particularly interested in him. This guide is an extra 10 lari.
3. MOMA Tbilisi
The next-most-famous art gallery in Tbilisi, this place is largely centered around the life and work of Zurab Tsereteli, the kooky bohemian who designed the city’s bold and bizarre Chronicle of Georgia.
So if you really want to learn about the man and his work, head here. You’ll find some of his most famous sculptures and paintings. The most interesting (and definitely weirdest) of them all is the so-called ‘Apple of Love,’ a hefty walk-in structure which sits outside the building. Don’t take your kids or your grandma.
Also on the city’s main Rustaveli Avenue, this lives on the same street as the two venues we’ve outlined above. So you can easily smash through all three in one big bumper day of education.
Aside from all the Zurab Tsereteli stuff, MOMA Tbilisi is also home to various visiting exhibitions from both local and international artists.
4. Tbilisi Open Air Museum of Ethnography
I usually find historical museums tediously boring and a horrendous waste of time, but even I quite like this one.
Yeah, it’s still a place to learn (who wants to do that in their spare time?), but at least it’s outdoors and interactive. And it has costume-character actors walking around, which is always a bit of a laugh.
It’s a surprisingly extensive place. Known for being one of the city’s top historical attractions, the Tbilisi Open Air Museum of Ethnography is home to around 70 old-style buildings, most of which you can wander inside of (and walk around in). Most rooms feature a guide, who can talk you through some of the stuff you’re looking at.
The buildings include water mills, farmhouses, homes, a winery, a basilica, a crypt, and plenty more miscellaneous stuff (from various periods of time).
Because it’s varied, interactive and outdoors, this place is one of the best museums in Tbilisi if you’re traveling with kids.
5. Tbilisi History Museum
Another option for history buffs, this little place sits right in the middle of the Old Town… so you can quickly stop by on any wander through the city. It centers pretty exclusively on the history of Tbilisi itself, and most of the exhibits are photographs and dioramas.
The exhibits also include paintings, with more than 50,000 artifacts in total. They date back from 4,000BC all the way to the present day.
The place is located inside a renovated Caravanserai (an ancient roadside mid-journey inn, where travelers would stop and sleep during some long-distance odyssey).
Guided tours are available here, but only in German, Russian and (of course) Georgian.
6. The Art Museum of Georgia
Also known as Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts, this is one of the best arts venues in the entirety of Georgia.
In it, you’ll find more than 3,500 pieces of art, crafted and created by more than 100 different Georgian artists.
Because it’s so vast and varied, you get a whole load of different art, including sculptures, paintings, installations, and even some musical stuff. If you want to explore the output of Georgian artists beyond just the big names, this is exactly the place you want to visit.
All of the stuff is pretty modern, ranging from the last 70 years. Because of that, lots of the work is quite innovative and inventive.
The venue also offers lectures and talks, along with regularly-rotating visiting exhibitions.
7. Tbilisi Auto Museum
Kooky and quirky, this is a good choice if you’re looking for something a little different. Even if you find museums boring, you’ll probably still enjoy this one.
A retro funfest brimming with lots of old cars and vehicles, this was once a private collection. It was collated and organized by Gia Mamulashvili, a wacky local guy with a passion for transport.
Since the collection was opened up to the public, the place has expanded, and it now includes more than 50 different vehicles. In it, you’ll find classy cars, colorful cars, a retro ambulance, and even some stuff you can hire (to ride around in yourself!).
If you like cars, you’ll love this place. And even if you don’t, you’ll probably appreciate its endearing eccentricity. Highly recommended!
8. Mikheil Shengelia Museum of History of Georgian Medicine
Sitting in Marjanishvili, it’s the strange and surreal Mikheil Shengelia Museum of History of Georgian Medicine.
Arguably the best science museum in the nation, it’s super niche and unique, and it’s a pretty cool place to visit.
Before I came to Georgia, I didn’t realize the place was so historically influential when it came to medicine. But this museum showed me that I was an ignorant little child of a man, teaching me about folk medicines, sulfur baths, local herbs, local plants, mineral waters, and all the other allegedly-healthy stuff from in and around the nation.
The museum also contains medical-related manuscripts dating back hundreds of years, along with English-speaking tours for lots more context and information.
If you’re interested in health, medicine or science, you’ll probably think this is one of the best museums in Tbilisi.
9. Museum of Books
Alright, I’ve got a big fat confession to make here.
I haven’t actually visited this tiny little place, because it was closed until quite recently. Add that to the fact that I’m not particularly bothered about museums, and you get a solid-gold recipe for my inevitable non-attendance.
Anyway, despite my cynicism, I actually really like books. So I’ll probably visit the place soon… and then I’ll have a much more informed opinion.
But, for now, from what I’ve heard and read, this museum seems like a pretty interesting place, featuring old Georgian books, rare Georgian books, private collections, retro manuscripts, digitized versions of important works, and more than 10,000 different exhibits.
Georgia has a pretty rich literary heritage—and this museum is obviously a good place to learn about it.
10. Tbilisi Museum of Illusions
If normal historical museums bore you (me too), here’s some good news: you’ve found a retina-bending solution to your problems.
At the Tbilisi Museum of Illusions, you’ll find loads of weird and wacky stuff, including mirror rooms, a vortex tunnel, interactive exhibitions, fun games, and a whole load of distorted perspectives.
It’s of course great if you’re traveling with kids. If your little ones (or you) want something interactive and exciting, this is one of the best museums in Tbilisi. Yeah, it’s a bit juvenile and silly, but that’s the point.
And because it’s conveniently right in the heart of the Old Town, you don’t need to travel far to find it. It’s not huge, but you’ll probably spend around an hour here.
11. Museum of Selfies
Pretty similar to the Tbilisi Museum of Illusions, this goofy gallery isn’t about learning, education, or pretending to be intelligent… but it’s great if you’re traveling with kids (or if you’re just a big man-baby like me who’s looking for something fun).
Childish, ridiculous and pointless in all the best possible ways, Tbilisi’s Museum of Selfies is full of silly stuff. Expect stupid outfits, weird backdrops, colorful spaces, Tbilisi-themed touches, friendly staff, and a whole load of laughs.
The museum has 30 different areas, and you’ll probably spend around an hour wandering through the place.
12. Art Palace of Georgia
Another artistic option, the Art Palace of Georgia is super close to the Museum of Selfies, so you can easily tackle both in half a day.
Inside, you’ll find lots of items and exhibits related to music, art, cinema, theater and choreography… including costumes, sculptures, paintings, musical instruments, ticket stubs, sketches, statues, photographs, decor, and plenty more.
If you’re even vaguely interested in learning about the history of local arts, you’ll like the place. The super-low entry fee includes a little tour from one of the staff (if you want it). The people who work here seem really passionate about what they do.
The museum is housed inside a super-beautiful building. If you like unusual architecture, you’ll enjoy wandering around this entire neighborhood—Marjanishvili is full of pretty stuff (including my face, because I live here. LOL).
13. Underground Printing House Museum
This diminutive gallery famously houses Stalin’s infamous printing press (who, as you may or may not know, was actually born in Georgia). He was from the city of Gori, which, if you’re looking for one, is a great day-trip from Tbilisi.
Anyway, this tiny museum is knockabout no-frills Georgian in all the best possible ways—there are no official opening times and no official entry fees… and, instead, the place is simply tucked away under some guy’s house. A welcoming but traditionally-taciturn guy, he’s called Soso, and he’s a local legend.
If he’s at home (which he usually is), he’ll let you into the mini museum. And if you speak Russian or Georgian, Soso might personally show you around, and give you some interesting insights.
If you do get inside, the main attraction is of course Stalin’s printing press, which the mustached man used to make and share propaganda when he was a young maverick revolutionary. But aside from that, you’ll see other relics from the period, along with lots of photos of both Lenin and Stalin.
This isn’t just a museum, it’s an experience. Hugely unique and hugely recommended.
14. State Museum of Georgian Folk Songs and Musical Instruments
The lengthily-titled State Museum of Georgian Folk Songs and Musical Instruments is a quirky little venue right in the heart of the Old Town.
Although it only has three rooms, there’s a surprising amount of stuff crammed into the confines of this place.
They have Georgian, European and Asian instruments, and lots of things that may or may not be pianos or guitars or violins or whatever (as you can tell, I don’t know much about musical instruments).
The museum is pretty niche, so it won’t appeal to most people. But if you’re interested in local music or the history of musical instruments, you’ll probably think it’s one of the best museums in Tbilisi. A tour is the best way to experience the place—they only cost 5 lari, and they offer a lot of otherwise-missing context.
15. State Silk Museum
For now, this place is closed, because of ongoing renovations. But from what I’ve heard, it won’t be long until it’s open again.
Because it’s been closed for the whole time I’ve been in Tbilisi, I haven’t been inside the place myself. But I do have access to the internet… so instead of visiting the museum, I’ve just Googled it instead.
According to my detailed and intensive Google-based research, Tbilisi’s State Silk Museum seems like a pretty cool place. One of the oldest silk museums on the planet, it features exhibits from over 60 different countries.
Included among it all, you get garments, lessons on silkworm biology, a kooky collection of cocoons, a library (filled with rare books), production equipment, friendly staff, and plenty more stuff.
I once met someone who worked here, and they seemed pretty passionate about the place.
Seemingly, this unique venue is one of the best museums in Tbilisi for anyone interested in fashion, fabrics, textiles, or silkworms.
Before You Go
There they are—the 15 best museums in Tbilisi!
If you want to know anything else about exploring Georgia’s ridiculously-lovable capital city, check out our guides on the city’s 13 best hotels for solo travelers, all the things the city is famous for, and the top 17 reasons why I absolutely love the place.
Thanks for reading, see you next time, and make sure you keep coming back to Travelness for much more.