Current Exhibitions

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Armenia: art, culture, eternity

This introductory gallery provides an overview of Armenian culture from antiquity to present-day Armenian experience here in the United States. Over fifty objects are on display, illustrating Armenia’s origins in the Asian continent, the invention of a unique Indo-European language and alphabet, the early adoption of Christianity, Armenian medieval illuminated manuscripts, interconnected trade routes, and the tragedy of the Genocide.

For viewers around the world, Yousuf Karsh defined the photographic portrait in the twentieth century. Specializing in the creation of iconic images of the world’s leading figures—statesmen, writers, actors, artists, musicians, and scientists—Karsh made images that resonated deeply with his audience.

Armenians are an ancient people, with a rich complex history and culture spanning 3,000 years. In 1971, community leaders founded the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown. Today Watertown is the “Little Armenia” for generations of Armenian-Americans.

Although Armenians are famed for their beautiful religious art: church architecture, illuminated manuscripts and intricate khatchkars (stone crosses), the most common form of artistic expression was through their textiles, a far more ephemeral medium. From time immemorial, Armenian women have created and ornamented clothing and created works that delighted the eye of the wearer and viewer. A bride’s worth and reputation was judged by her hand skills.

Metal objects in Syria and throughout the Middle East had important and widespread use; cooking was done in metal vessels, the hands of guests were washed in metal ewers, the literate used metal inkwells, wealthy women used metal toiletries such as metal-back mirrors and cosmetic containers. These metal works were noted for their function, inventiveness of form, and fineness of surface treatment. Because Muslim tradition was disinclined to trade, many of the more creative copper pieces of the Ottoman period were made by Armenians, as revealed by their interesting inscriptions that often mixed with Green and Christian crosses.

The exhibit is a stunning visual narrative of the events of the 1915-1923 Genocide, and the continuing aftermath and denial by the Turkish government over generations. The visitor will find a chronological narrative of the tragic events leading up to World War 1, the years of Genocide (1915-1923), and the continued denial to the present.