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.

In 1988 the founders purchased and renovated the Museum’s present building. A former bank designed by renowned architect Ben Thompson, this modern building is located in the heart of Watertown, Massachusetts, the center of one of America’s largest Armenian communities. Significant objects donated by the Bedoukian family and others strengthened our holdings, making it the leading collection of Armenian objects outside of Armenia.

In 2011, Estrellita Karsh donated a collection of photographs by her husband, Yousuf Karsh, marking a new transformational period for the Museum. A gallery was renovated to show some of the most iconic portraits of the twentieth century. Additionally, an adjacent gallery was also renovated to permanently display highlights of the collection, including illuminated manuscripts, liturgical objects, rugs, ceramics, and textiles.


With renewed commitment from the President and Board of Trustees, the Armenian Museum is strengthening its presence as the most significant museum of Armenian culture outside of Armenia. Looking toward the future, we have completed the first phase of the New Museum project, in which a new gallery was created on the first floor to provide an overview of Armenian culture from antiquity to present-day Armenian experience here in the United States. The gallery explores the birth of Armenian culture and history, including topics such as 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. A new chapter was added to the museum display by including stories of Armenians in America through ephemera and cultural objects donated by Armenian immigrants.


Museum Timeline


  • Opening of new gallery, Armenia: art, culture, eternity

  • Opening of Armenia! at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two illuminated manuscripts from the Armenian Museum’s collection are among the objects on display.

  • Jennifer Liston Munson appointed as the Armenian Museum’s Executive Director


  • Launch of new branding and identity program for the Museum which draws from an expressive symbol of eternity carved on a 12th-century Armenian monastery to form a distinctive logo that, combined with the tagline “art, culture, eternity” sets the tone for the reinvention of the Museum


  • Haig Der Manuelian appoints Michele Kolligian, a member of the Board since 2000, as the new President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.

  • Opening of Objects that Transcend: Metalwork from the Garabedian Collection

  • President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, visits the Museum as part of a larger commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia


  • Catholicos Aram I visits the Museum


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • Pilibosian Rug Collection exhibition opens

  • Fabric of a Culture: Armenian Regional Costumes exhibition opens


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • ALMA Website established

  • Exhibition at “Dreams of Freedom Museum” at the International Institute in Boston, Massachusetts

  • Donation of Bedoukian Coin and Library Collection


  • 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


  • Genocide Exhibition in Rhode Island Holocaust Center

  • Armenian Exhibition at the Providence Public Library

  • Los Angeles charter membership luncheon


  • Acquisition of Shalian Collection of books


  • 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


  • 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


  • Gontag issued to ALMA by Catholicos Vasken I

  • Building dedicated to memory of Stephen Papken Mugar and Marian Graves Mugar


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • Renovations completed and formal opening. Gary Lind-Sinanian engaged as full-time acting curator

  • Databank of the Armenian Rugs Society received


  • Purchase of the former Coolidge Bank Headquarters at 65 Main Street, Watertown, Massachusetts


  • Donation of William Chad Textile Collection


  • 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


  • Leasing and renovations of 4,000 square feet of space in the basement of the First Armenian Church, Belmont


  • Donation by Mt. Holyoke College of its Library Collection of Missionary Artifacts


  • ALMA Exhibition and Banquet at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


  • 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.


  • Textile Exhibition at Dartmouth College.


  • First Exhibition and Open House at Belmont parish house.

  • Display at Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


  • Contribution of Dr. Stanley Kerr collection of Near East Relief documents and artifacts.

  • Donation of Adele and Haig Der Manuelian Family Collection.


  • 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.


  • Two rooms rented at First Armenian Church, Belmont, MA, parish house for storage and limited activity.


  • ALMA founded.