The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) hosted a luncheon at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, which featured remarks by The Met’s President and CEO Daniel H. Weiss, “Armenia!” exhibit curator Dr. Helen Evans, and Armenia’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Varuzhan Nersesyan.
Following the luncheon, guests were given a special tour of the “Armenia!” exhibition by the catalogue contributor Dr. Rachel Goshgarian, who is also an intern alumna of the Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program.
“On behalf of the Armenian Assembly of America, we extend our deep appreciation to Met President and CEO Daniel Weiss, exhibit curator Dr. Helen Evans, and Ambassador Nersesyan for their insightful remarks. It was a fantastic afternoon, and we would especially like to thank Dr. Rachel Goshgarian for leading the tours, going above and beyond to explain the importance of each artifact,” stated Assembly Board Member Alex Karapetian, who spearheaded the event. “We strongly encourage everyone to attend with family and friends. It is truly amazing,” he added.
Met President Weiss thanked the guests for attending the exhibit, noting Dr. Evans’ hard work and dedication which made the “Armenia!” exhibition the success that it is today. To date, The Met recorded over 152,000 visitors to the “Armenia!” exhibit, with even more views on its website which features an interactive map of Armenians in the Medieval World. The interactive map will remain accessible to the public even after the “Armenia!” exhibit concludes on January 13th.
Dr. Evans addressed the audience with her overarching goal of the exhibit. She explained her hope for the larger public – those who do not know what or where Armenia is – to leave The Met more interested in Armenia and its culture. And, thanks to her efforts, Dr. Evans’ goal has been a success. She told the guests at the luncheon that people are leaving more fascinated with Armenia and want to learn more. She also noted that almost every University in the area is featuring a class on The Met’s “Armenia!” exhibit, including her own course at Columbia University as the Nikit and Eleanora Ordjanian Visiting Professor, called “Origins of Armenian Art: Creating An Identity.”
The “Armenia!” exhibit features more than 140 objects, including opulent gilded reliquaries, richly illuminated manuscripts, rare textiles, cross stones (khachkars), precious liturgical furnishings, church models, and printed books – most of which are on view in the United States for the first time. It explores the arts and culture of the Armenians from their conversion to Christianity in the early 4th century through their leading role on international trade routes in the 17th century.
Representing the cultural heritage of Armenia, most of the works come from major Armenian collections: the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin; the Matenadaran of Ancient Manuscripts and the National History Museum in the Republic of Armenia; the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Lebanon; the Brotherhood of St. James in Jerusalem; the Mekhitarist Congregation of San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice; the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon; the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) in New York; the Armenian Museum of America in Boston; and the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum in Michigan.
Ambassador Nersesyan thanked The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and especially Dr. Evans, for their contributions to Armenian American cultural relations, introducing Armenian civilization, nature, and soul to New York. “This exhibit is about both Armenian culture and resilience,” he said. The Ambassador drew upon all the Armenian cultural events which occurred throughout the year, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall and the William Saroyan House Museum in Fresno, which introduced Armenian culture to Americans throughout the country.
Guests in attendance at the Armenian Assembly’s luncheon included United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management
Movses Abelian, Armenia’s Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Mher Margaryan, Lafayette College President Alison Byerly, and Ambassador Henry Morgenthau’s great-nephews Roger and Christopher London. Representing the Armenian Assembly of America were Board of Trustees Co-Chairmen Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian, President Carolyn Mugar, Secretary Oscar Tatosian, Assistant Secretary Lisa Kalustian, Board Member Alex Karapetian, and Board Member Annie Simonian Totah, in addition to Armenian Assembly’s State Chair Herman Purutyan in Massachusetts and Narek Sevacheryan in New York.