By Aram Arkun
RICHMOND, Va. — With only a handful of the 16 Holocaust and genocide museums and 150 Holocaust and genocide study centers in the US containing substantial sections devoted to the Armenian Genocide, the decision of the Virginia Holocaust Museum to develop a permanent exhibit on the Armenian Genocide is all the more laudable and impressive. The museum hosted a special event on December 11 to call attention to its temporary Armenian exhibit and spur donations of suitable artifacts and financial support for the forthcoming permanent exhibit. The event was organized by the Armenian Education Center (AEC) of Virginia.
The Virginia Holocaust Museum was founded in 1997 in several rooms of Temple Beth El but as it grew, in 2000, it was gifted an old tobacco warehouse by the Virginia State Legislature.
One of its most famous exhibits, which opened in 2008, is the only existing replica of the Nuremberg Trials Courtroom. Its stated mission is teaching tolerance to all through education. AEC Director Arpi Bouroujian and committee member Barkev Baronian served as the masters of ceremonies. Tim Hensley, the librarian of the museum, spoke about the museum’s plan for a permanent exhibit, titled “The Whole World Failed,” which will include materials on a variety of 20th- and 21st- century genocides and the genocide of the American Indians.
The Armenian Genocide will be a major part of this exhibit. Hensley estimated that it would take some two to two-and-one-half years to prepare the Armenian section. He called for community support. While financial donations would be appreciated, even more important are original personal accounts, photos, letters, and other artifacts connected to the Armenian Genocide. If families do not wish initially to donate such items, the museum can also make high quality reproductions.