Visiting Mikoyan Brothers Museum. MiG. That just sounds cool. The Soviet MiG jet fighter. As a kid, I imagined F-14s and MiGs dancing in the air in combat as I played war. That name MiG is not just a random jumble of letters but is named after the two designers of the MiG, Artom Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. I am going to be focusing on Mikoyan, I am sure Gurevich is a great guy, but I visited the Mikoyan Brothers Museum, and, well, I am Armenian just like Mikoyan.
Artom Mikoyan was born in Sanahin, which can be found in today’s northern part of Armenia, and when he was born, it was part of the Russian Empire in 1905. Sanahin is well known on the tourist trail for the stunning 10th century Sanahin Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
And only five minutes away is the Mikoyan Museum.
A MiG-21 stands on a platform, ready to launch into the sky.
This is just a typical village, sloping down a hill, with a school and some houses surrounding this vicious machine of war. The MiG stands as an aberration in this neighborhood as I watch children laugh and play at the adjacent school. Behind the full-sized MiG, down a path is a tidy and compact two-story museum. In fact, I had visited the MiG plane over 16 years ago but was not even aware that there was a nearby museum, which I missed.
MiG was born in 1939 as the Pilot Design Department of the Aviation Plant #1 (the Soviet Union was really into branding). The first 100 planes, MiG-1, rolled off the factory floor in 1940. For many decades, future and improved MiG models were developed and deployed, always with an odd number. The MiG-21 which is showcased at the museum is supersonic workhorse. The fighter jet, nicknamed by NATO as Fishbed, has been employed in 60 different countries. And is still being used six decades later.
Maybe you noted the museum is not named the Artom Mikoyan Museum, but the Mikoyan Brothers Museum. Artom had an older brother, Anastas, who was famous in his own right, actually even better known. Anastas was an early convert to Bolshevism and served in senior roles under Lenin, Stalin, Kruschchev, and Brezhnev. He played a critical role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Anastas was an outlier that he served under so many leaders and was able to retire in peace.
So enjoy your visit to the museum and learn about the Mikoyan brothers, both who played outsized roles during the Soviet Union. It is a very reasonable (probably too cheap) 500 Dram (about $1) entry fee. Expect a guided visit during your stay at the museum. The guides at the Mikoyan Brothers Museum are excellent and are part of the Alaverdi Guide Association. They are a great resource when exploring the region, which you can hire.
Visiting Mikoyan Brothers Museum.