Museum preserves history, culture of Armenia
By Mark Pratt / Associated Press
Monday, August 29, 2005
WATERTOWN -- Armenia has been conquered by the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Ottoman Turks and Russians.
Before gaining its independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, its people were oppressed, murdered and scattered across the globe.
"It is a rough and bloody history," said Gary Lind-Sinanian, curator of the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown.
The largest Armenian museum in the U.S. preserves and promotes the distinct and vibrant culture of the Armenian people, who have survived and thrived despite their sad history.
It houses a collection of 20,000 artifacts, and continually changing displays of ornate Bibles, Gospels and prayer books; colorful rugs, clothing and iles; antique musical instruments; ancient coins from the time before Christ and dazzling jewelry.
Through Oct. 30, it features an exhibit called "Monks, Merchants and Missionaries: The Bible in the Armenian Tradition." There are ornate and colorful hand-transcribed and decorated Gospels and prayer books, including one that dates to 1207 and was in the same family for 39 generations before being donated to the museum.
"The book was said to have healing properties," Lind-Sinanian said. "People with sick relatives would travel miles to rub bread on the cover, then bring the bread back for their sick relatives to eat."
There's also a library containing more than 22,000 books. I wonder if the museum has any manuscripts of Armenian biblical apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.