Merv Interpretation Centre

The Ancient Merv Archaeological Park, Turkmenistan’s first World Heritage Site, urgently needs facilities for interpretation, education, management, conservation and archaeological activities.

The Ancient Merv Project and the Archaeological Park Staff aim to develop a modern world-class interpretation centre to support the sustainability of the interpretation, management and conservation activities at the site, fostering economic and social benefits for local communities. The current interpretation facilities are hugely inadequate for this renowned site, and do little to enhance the understanding, enjoyment and economic benefits for the c. 20.000 local people and 7000 schoolchildren visiting the site each year.

The Archaeological Park needs to maximise the economic benefits from foreign visitors (c. 1000), charging a realistic entrance fee, matched by offering appropriate facilities and interpretative material. The envisaged Interpretation Centre aims to:

• Make interpretative and educational resources available to local people;
• Develop local and national support for conservation & site management;
• Provide facilities for sustainable international tourism;
• Enhance the existing Park infrastructure and capacity;
• Underpin the long-term future of the cultural resource at Merv;
• Be self-sustaining: use a conservative estimate of international tourism and
commercial activities to sustain the running costs & staffing of the new centre;
• Provide a venue for local community activities and enhance interaction between staff and visitors

School group in current Interpretation Centre


The Merv Interpretation Centre will be a modern building. The Merv Interpretation Centre is therefore envisaged as an expanding green courtyard, evoking the spirit of the ancient cities of Merv, with the building units situated within shaded, well-maintained, garden plots. The modular courtyard vision will also enable the creation of different outside activity community spaces, such as picnic areas, alongside spaces for experimental building, craft and educational activities. The Centre will provide permanent and temporary Exhibition spaces, Educational facilities such as classrooms, park offices and research facilities (libraries and study spaces) and space for storage and conservation work.

Architect’s sketch for future Interpretation Centre


The centre will be constructed from modern earthen architecture. The choice of earth as a building material reflects the archaeological, historic and contemporary local building practises. Earth is a material ideally suited to the harsh desert climate of Merv. Training in earth construction will contribute significantly to knowledge about the material, and maintenance will develop expertise in site conservation activities. The sustainable and ecological approach to building and landscape design at the Merv Interpretation Centre will be the first such approach to building and landscape design in Turkmenistan (and Central Asia) and will represent a significant new project, of national and international significance.


An outline costing suggests that vast resources would be needed to implement all aspects of the physical building, with additional resources to underpin the development of specific technical areas. The centre will be self-financing after construction: with ticketing, retailing, and events, aimed at current visitor numbers covering maintenance, staff, security, & equipment, while in a rising tourism market it would provide additional resources for conservation activities.

We are at present looking for funding opportunities to develop this important interpretive and community resource for Ancient Merv. We welcome any questions about fundraising opportunities or comments about our proposals - you can contact us here.