History

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.

 
 

Museum Timeline

2015

  • Catholicos Aram I visits the Museum

2014

  • 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

2013

  • 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

2012

  • 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

2011

  • 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

2010

  • 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

2009

  • Pilibosian Rug Collection exhibition opens

  • Fabric of a Culture: Armenian Regional Costumes exhibition opens

2008

  • 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

2007

  • 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

2006

  • 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

2005

  • 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

2004

  • 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

2002

  • 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

2001

  • 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

2000

  • ALMA Website established

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

  • Donation of Bedoukian Coin and Library Collection

1999

  • 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

1998

  • Genocide Exhibition in Rhode Island Holocaust Center

  • Armenian Exhibition at the Providence Public Library

  • Los Angeles charter membership luncheon

1997

  • Acquisition of Shalian Collection of books

1996

  • 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

1995

  • 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

1994

  • Gontag issued to ALMA by Catholicos Vasken I

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

1993

  • 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

1992

  • 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

1991

  • 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

1990

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

  • Databank of the Armenian Rugs Society received

1988

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

1987

  • Donation of William Chad Textile Collection

1986

  • 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

1985

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

1983

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

1981

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

1980

  • 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.

1979

  • Textile Exhibition at Dartmouth College.

1976

  • First Exhibition and Open House at Belmont parish house.

  • Display at Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

1975

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

  • Donation of Adele and Haig Der Manuelian Family Collection.

1974

  • 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.

1972

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

1971

  • ALMA founded.