WATERTOWN, Mass. — The Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) is going to be the new home for many iconic images from one of the most renowned portrait photographers of the 20th century, Yousuf Karsh.
The photographer captured the images of some of the world’s most noted and inspiring personalities, such as Pablo Picasso, Winston Churchill, Helen Keller, Aram Khachaturian, Ernest Hemingway, Eleanor Roosevelt and Vartan Gregorian, to name a few.
Karsh, who was born in Mardin, Western Armenia, was sent by his anxious parents to Canada to escape the Armenian Genocide. He learned about photography from his uncle, George Nakash, but clearly he was more gifted than anyone had anticipated. In his lifetime, someone had truly arrived if they sat for a Karsh portrait.
Karsh and his wife, Estrellita, moved to Boston, where he died in 2002.
Recently, Estrellita Karsh, gifted the museum with an impressive collection of his portraits. Estrellita Karsh said she felt that ALMA was a fitting home for her late husband’s works and said, “Yousuf had great pride in his Armenian heritage and it would have meant so much to him knowing that representative portraits of his work are being housed at the Armenian Library and Museum of America.”
ALMA board members decided it would be the perfect time to redesign the space and layout of the first floor of the Bedoukian Gallery, before the masterpieces arrrived at their new home. Using this permanent collection as a tipping point, ALMA has been renovating its first floor since June — specifically the Bedoukian Gallery, reception area and gift and book shop.