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Vision for Armenian American Museum exhibition takes shape

Armenian American Museum Planning Workshop
A pair of meetings were held late last month to help determine the general direction of the Armenian American Museum’s permanent exhibition. The planning workshops drew about 100 stakeholders, including museum donors, committee members, volunteers and community representatives.
(Courtesy of the Armenian American Museum )

A vision underpinning downtown Glendale’s forthcoming Armenian American Museum is beginning to emerge.

Telling the story of the Armenian Genocide will be a central aspect of the museum’s main exhibition. Conveying the millennia-long history of the Armenian people before and after the genocide will be another.

Those were the common themes expressed by nearly 100 stakeholders at a pair of workshops held late last month to discuss the broad direction of the institution’s permanent exhibition, according to Shant Sahakian, the museum’s executive director.

“To understand the genocide, you have to know what was destroyed,” Sahakian said. “It’s equally important to know the perseverance and resiliency of the Armenian people in the face of the genocide.”

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While still in the early stages, the input from the recent meetings will be used to develop an initial concept for the exhibition, Sahakian said.

Once the concept is developed, it will take about two years for exhibition design firm Gallagher & Associates to move through the design, artifact-collection and fabrication aspects of the process.

The tentative goal is to offer visitors an immersive, multimedia experience that’s “tech based,” alongside rare historical artifacts and documents, Sakahian said.

Besides a permanent exhibit, the museum, planned for Glendale Central Park, will feature rotating temporary exhibits that will go beyond the Armenian American experience.

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The museum is slated to span 60,000 square feet and rise three stories. Its construction is expected to begin during the second half of next year. The goal is to open the doors to the public in about three to four years.

“We were looking at the big picture,” Sahakian said about the recent planning workshops that drew museum donors, committee members, volunteers and community representatives.

“When someone walks out the door, what do you want them leaving with? What stories? What knowledge? What are the important things visitors should know about the Armenian people?” Sahakian said, describing questions the stakeholders sought to answer.

Next year, museum officials plan to seek feedback from a wider group of people, Sahakian said. The plan is to open a survey to people from across the country, as well as locally.

The museum will also include a performing arts space, learning center and demo kitchen.

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