Officials present updated plans, gather feedback on Armenian American Museum project

Officials present updated plans, gather feedback on Armenian American Museum project
An exterior concept for the proposed Armenian American Museum to be located in Glendale Cental Park. Museum officials held a community meeting Jan. 8 to discuss plans and collect community feedback for the facility. (Courtesy of Shant Sahakian)

Officials for the proposed Armenian American Museum held their first community meeting since announcing the museum's relocation to downtown Glendale's Central Park.

In 2016, city officials agreed to carve out an area in the Central Park block for the museum and also used the opportunity to reimagine the space so it could integrate nearby facilities as well as create new public and recreational spaces.


The museum was originally set for construction on a 1.37-acre, city-owned parking lot at Mountain Street and Verdugo Road, across from Glendale Community College and near a residential neighborhood.

However, it was relocated to a more nonresidential area after community pushback.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) helped secure $3 million for the museum project last year, adding to the already $1 million approved by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The 10 participating organizations that constitute the board of directors and govern the project have already contributed $1 million and collected $1.8 million in 80 individual anonymous donations.

Berdj Karapetian, chairman of the museum's project development committee, said museum board members hope to raise an additional $2 million by the end of this year, adding that they expect annual operating costs for the museum will total about $1.2 million once it's open.

Layout plans for the three-story structure include a 300- to 350-seat auditorium on the first floor for performing arts, a still unplanned permanent and rotating exhibition space on the second level and a research learning center as well as a demonstration kitchen on the third floor. The rooftop terrace will include a sculpture garden.

About 20,000 square feet will be dedicated to exhibit space throughout the museum, said lead architect Aram Alajajian with Alajajian Marcoosi Architects Inc.

During the community-feedback portion of the meeting, people raised more questions than concerns. Questions included how much the museum's admission price will be and who will dictate the theme of the permanent exhibit, but also there were concerns about how officials will compensate for the already limited parking in the area.

According to officials, admission will be free, the museum's governing committee will decide the narrative for exhibits and the museum will have three levels of underground parking.

Karapetian admitted that the first three community meetings had quite a few negative responses, mostly taking issue with the former proposed location of the museum, but said he was pleased that the meeting on Thursday elicited mostly positive comments about the Central Park relocation.

"We were very pleased at the turnout. It was a good turnout for a community forum of this nature, and we had some very good feedback that will help guide us in finalizing the schematic design and plans for the building," he said.

Should City Council approve the project some time later this year, officials expect the museum will open by 2023.

Twitter: @JeffLanda