University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
chgs@umn.edu
612-624-0256


CHGS

Introduction

The "Armenia: Memories From My Home" exhibit at Ellis Island was an important happening, in that it was a learning experience for the Armenian as well as the nonArmenian viewer. Spending a day visiting Ellis Island with your family or friends is a day well spent because, as you seek to be entertained, you are also being educated and enlightened. Ellis Island receives 70,000 visitors weekly.

Each culture is measured by the legacy of its art, music, science and history. This exhibit provided the opportunity to display to the viewer the many accomplishments of our small but viable and vibrant ethnic community. The Armenians have contributed their brains as well as their muscle to the economic and cultural development of the United States. This exhibit is just a glimpse of the total Armenian experience.

The curator, Margaret C.TellalianKyrkostas, and the Ellis Island Exhibit Committee made every effort to provide the viewer with the most eyepleasing and comprehensive display about Armenia, as was possible in the space allocated for the exhibit in the Sherman Gallery at Ellis Island. The exhibit featured a "Comparative Timeline of Armenian and World Events," which presented a whole new perspective on world history and the role played by the Armenian people during the past 10,000 years. The two silkscreened printed (6'xx10') Timelines cover the period from 9000 BCE to the present and are decorated with timely illustrations using the colors of the Armenian flag: red, blue and orange. The "Massacre" panel displayed photographs and text depicting the 1915 massacres. The "Genocide" panel exhibited material on the escape routes, outcome and personal oral histories. "Coming To America" followed the Yemenedjian and Tellalian families from the escape, to the boat, to Ellis Island and finally to their new way of life in America. As immigrants, they learned the language, studied and became proud citizens of the United States. "Echoes From The Past" included treasures, musical instruments, toys and photographs brought over from the old country by the Dildilian, Mangassarian, Abrahamian and Tarzian families. The striking (4'x6') photograph of Etchmiadzin was displayed in the "301, Armenia Becomes The First Christian Nation" panel, which also included a twofoot replica of a traditional Armenian gold cross, an (2'x4') original oil painting of two of the original twelve apostles, Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew, the illuminators and evangelizers of the Christian faith in Armenia, and the vestments of the late Rev Fr. Michael Buttero. The "Language" panel depicted the roots of the language with an IndoEuropean Language Tree, Western and Eastern pronunciations of Armenian, Lord Byron studying Armenian at the Mekhitarist Convent near Venice, Italy and a translation of the graffiti written by an Armenian immigrant on a wall at Ellis Island. "Armenian Immigrants Enter Work Force" showed the versatility and ingenuity of the early arrivals. They became professionals, factory laborers, oriental rug repairers and merchants, farm workers, tailors; some even engaged in winemaking in the vineyards of California. And finally, the "Contributions of Armenians to America" panel featured an "I Am Armenian" list of famous Armenians and included a 24" round Zildjian brass cymbal, cookbooks by Alice Antreassian, Walter Kaprielian and George Mardigian, the burpless seedless cucumber, "The Duke," photographs of Mike Connors, Kirk Kerkorian, Rouben Mamoulian, and reproductions of works by Arshile Gorky.

Every effort has been made to include in this catalog most items that were in the original exhibit at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The censored photographs and text that were not reinstated are indicated by the word "CENSORED." The catalog also contains items that were eliminated due to lack of space; e.g., illustrations of the petroglyphs from the basin of Lake Sevan. A table of contents is included at the end of this catalog for handy reference. For information on the traveling (7'x12') photoexhibit, a condensed version of "Armenia: Memories From My Home," call the Museum office (718-428-5650).