It all began in a church parish house in Belmont, Massachusetts in 1971, when a group of Armenian educators, professionals and business leaders began collecting Armenian books and artifacts. The collection grew steadily and, in 1985, the Armenian Museum of America opened its doors to the public for the first time. The Museum rented the basement of The First Armenian Church of Belmont, Massachusetts, where it operated for several years, independently from the Church.
After outgrowing the rented space, the Armenian Museum of America purchased and renovated its present building in 1988. A former bank designed by renowned architect Ben Thompson, it is a modern, four-story brick and glass building in the heart of Watertown, Massachusetts, the center of one of America’s largest Armenian communities.
Timeline of Events
- ALMA founded.
- Two rooms rented at First Armenian Church, Belmont, MA, parish house for storage and limited activity.
- Oral History Project launched resulting in over 600 tapes of interviews with Genocide survivors.
- Collaboration with the Armenian Assembly of America in its successful quest for a federally funded Oral History Project.
- Contribution of Dr. Stanley Kerr collection of Near East Relief documents and artifacts.
- Donation of Adele and Haig Der Manuelian Family Collection.
- First Exhibition and Open House at Belmont parish house.
- Display at Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
- Textile Exhibition at Dartmouth College.
- Receipt, as pre-arranged, of duplicate oral history tapes from the Armenian Assembly, increasing ALMA’s collection to over 1,400 hours of recorded oral history.
- ALMA Exhibition and Banquet at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Donation by Mt. Holyoke College of its Library Collection of Missionary Artifacts
- Leasing and renovations of 4,000 square feet of space in the basement of the First Armenian Church, Belmont
- Formal opening of the Library and Museum with regular operating hours and part-time staff
- Selective purchase of manuscript illuminations from the Hazarian Collection
- Donation of the Dr. H. Martin Deranian Heirloom Collection
- Exhibitions on Moses Hadji Gulesian on saving the USS Constitution, and Dr. Stanley Kerr about Marash
- Donation of William Chad Textile Collection
- Purchase of the former Coolidge Bank Headquarters at 65 Main Street, Watertown, Massachusetts
- Renovations completed and formal opening. Gary Lind-Sinanian engaged as full-time acting curator
- Databank of the Armenian Rugs Society received
- Donation of the Paul and Vicki Bedoukian Collection of Armenian Artifacts
- Commenced rotating of exhibits, programs and lecture series
- Donation and exhibition of the Walter and Laurel Karabian Collection of Kutahya Ceramics
- Donation of the Arthur T. Gregorian Collection of Armenian Inscribed Rugs
- Exhibitions of Armenian Inscribed Rugs from the Gregorian Collection in Marseilles, France and Montreal, Canada
- Acquisition of the Alice Odian Kasparian Collection
- Exhibition of Armenian-Inscribed Rugs at Tufts University
- Getty Museum conservation grant for ALMA’s Textile Department
- Initiation of the support programs for museums in Armenia
- Gontag issued to ALMA by Catholicos Vasken I
- Building dedicated to memory of Stephen Papken Mugar and Marian Graves Mugar
- First major Genocide Exhibition at ALMA
- Donation by the J. Pierpont Morgan Library of large church replica specially constructed for its major exhibition of illuminated Armenian manuscripts
- Publication of the illustrated, English language catalogue for the The State History Museum of Armenia, sponsored by ALMA
- 25th Anniversary Benefit Dinner in honor of Armenian Women and celebrating Michele Bagdasarian Simourian
- Major exhibit on Silk Trade
- Installation of a permanent Genocide Exhibition
- ALMA participation in Ellis Island exhibit on Armenian Genocide
- Project SAVE relocates to ALMA’s Mugar Building
- Acquisition of Shalian Collection of books
- Genocide Exhibition in Rhode Island Holocaust Center
- Armenian Exhibition at the Providence Public Library
- Los Angeles charter membership luncheon
- Sergei Parajanov Exhibition brought from Armenia
- Genocide Exhibition at The Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, Queensborough Community College, New York
- Benefit Banquet honoring Haig Der Manuelian
- “The Doctor is In” Jack Kevorkian Exhibition
- ALMA Website established
- Exhibition at “Dreams of Freedom Museum” at the International Institute in Boston, Massachusetts
- Donation of Bedoukian Coin and Library Collection
- Major participation in creating the website of the Armenian National Genocide Memorial Museum-Institute of Yerevan, Armenia
- Zodiac Exhibition in Los Angeles
- Donation by Dr. Rafik Sarkissian of Genocide sculpture “Mother and Child”
- Armenian Legion “Forgotten Heroes” Exhibition
- Music Exhibition funded by the Frederick F. Margosian Memorial Fund
- Bequest of Lionel Galstaun Art Collection
- Relocation of Armenia Tree Project’s Boston office to ALMA’s Mugar Building
- Genocide Exhibition at the Longmeadow/Springfield Holocaust Center and the Massachusetts State House in Boston
- Establishment of the Herbert Offen Oriental Rug Research Collection
- ALMA Fellowship project initiated
- Mena Topjian Children’s Program Started
- Donation of 1207 AD Garabed Gospel Book to ALMA by Julie Der Garabedian
- The Breath of God: The Bible in the Armenian Tradition Exhibition opens
- Completion of the installation of English-language descriptive plaques at churches in Armenia
- Traveling Genocide exhibit at the Texas State House in Austin, the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas, and the Patrick Mogan Cultural Center in Lowell, Massachusetts
- Filmings at ALMA for international documentaries broadcast in Germany, Belgium, France, Armenia and Austria
- Digitization of ALMA’s oral history tape collection by TechFusion Inc
- Blessing of the Garabed Gospel Book by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the House of Cilicia
- A Baptismal Dove and a 19th century Silver Chrysmatorium (from ALMA’s Bedoukian collection) was loaned to be exhibited at the Center Against Expulsion in Berlin, Germany
- Acquisition of the Sahmanian Textile Collection, thanks to Scott Offen’s generosity
- Six inscribed artifacts from ALMA’s Bedoukian and Karabian Collections were loaned to the galleries of the Vieille Charite in Marseille, France, to be displayed during the exhibition “Armenie: La Magie de l’Ecrit,” part of the government-sponsored “”ear of Armenia” in France
- Installation of ALMA’s “Who Are the Armenians” Exhibition, sponsored by the late Ann Nahigian, former ALMA Trustee
- Visit by His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II
- ALMA’s outreach programs involving other communities affected by genocides
- ALMA co-sponsored a juried photography exhibition with Armenia Tree Project “Photographic Journey of Armenia’s Natural Treasures.”
- Completion of the traveling exhibit “Legion Armenienne”
- Donation of Kasper Pilibosian Oriental Rug Collection
- Pilibosian Rug Collection exhibition opens
- Fabric of a Culture: Armenian Regional Costumes exhibition opens
- The Doctor is Out: the Art of Jack Kevorkian exhibition opens
- Pinajian: Master of Abstraction exhibition opens
- Traveling Genocide Exhibition premieres at the University of RI Feinstein Providence Campus Gallery
- Karsh Gala at Fairmont Copley Hotel
- Karsh: Celebrating Humanity exhibition opens
- Highlights from the Collection exhibition opens
- Traveling Genocide exhibition is displayed at the Virginia Holocaust Museum
- Bound for Glory: 500 Years of Armenian Printing exhibition opens
- Joint Genocide Commemoration of 3 Genocides: Armenian, Ukrainian and Irish
- Ambassador John Heffern visits the Museum
- Armenian Foreign Minister visits the Museum
- Museum acquires Norton Dodge Collection of Soviet Art
- Michael Aram line arrives at the Museum’s gift shop
- Joint Genocide Commemoration: Armenia, Darfur and Cambodia
- Curators Gary and Susan Lind-Sinanian are honored by Hamazkayin.
- ALMA changes name to Armenian Museum of America
- Joint Genocide Commemoration: Armenia, Tibet and the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Renovation and dedication of the Adele & Haig Der Manuelian Galleries
- Renovation of the Simourian Family Gallery
- Museum receives grant from Cummings Foundation
- Catholicos Aram I visits the Museum.