Sen. Anthony Portantino

Celebrating Differences and Heritage at LA Museum Gala

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HOLLYWOOD — The wide scope and visionary initiative of the Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California was highlighted during its Inaugural Gala on Sunday, December 9, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood, as more than 1,000 supporters, community leaders and public officials gathered on the heels of the museum’s Groundbreaking Campaign launch.

The objective of the evening was to raise awareness and funds to bolster the ambitious one-of-a-kind project that will be a world-class cultural and educational center. The mission of the structure will be to foster understanding of the diversity in America by conveying the Armenian-American experience. The museum will feature a permanent Armenian exhibition, traveling multicultural exhibitions, performing arts theater, a learning center, archives, a café and a gift shop, in order to be accessible to the general public that appreciates history and cultural ethnicities.

Serving as Master of Ceremonies, Fox 11 Morning News Anchor and Reporter Araksya Karapetyan expressed support for the “landmark” project in her remarks and stressed the importance of carrying on a legacy.

Assembly member Adrin Nazarian

“Armenian-American leaders had a vision of how to pass on our heritage and that’s how the idea was born,” she said. “The museum will bring people together and celebrate the rich tapestry that makes up what this rich country is about.”

Born and raised in Armenia, Karapetyan spoke of her journey to Southern California and her rise in the media industry, while always preserving her Armenian heritage, ultimately seeking to do the same for the generations to come.

“My roots are firmly planted in my homeland as is my heart,” said Karapetyan. “My connection is strong all these years later.”

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She spoke of the significance of upholding the Armenian people and culture and that it is everyone’s “responsibility to carry on our story.”

Karapetyan acknowledged the hard work and effort it takes to pass on a legacy but stressed the “duty” to instill the Armenian culture and that the museum will be a “physical reminder” of that.

“Despite being all over the world we must never forget who we are and where we come from,” said Karapetyan, remarking that the museum’s doors will be open to anyone who loves history. “Everyone will have a place to embrace their roots and heart and that’s what this Museum will be all about.”

Following a touching video presentation, “Nation of Builders,” that featured the symbolic structures around the Armenian Diaspora that have served as key gathering places for Armenians, Museum Executive Chairman Berdj Karapetian delivered his message.

Thanking the event organizers, volunteer committee and expressing appreciation to the leadership of the Board of Trustees, Karapetian underscored the deeper meaning of the museum.

“The Armenian American Museum is more than a museum,” said Karapetian. “It’s a museum about everyone who came to California and made it what it is today.”

He spoke of the museum as a learning facility where people can learn about the Armenian history and where they can learn to “prevent recurring injustices.”

Karapetian stated that the aim of the museum is to enrich the community and inspire people to promote mutual understanding of one another’s cultures. Above all, the Museum will bring together the youth, who will safeguard the Armenian people.

“Let’s build our museum in the name of our young people,” concluded Karapetian.

Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins

Senate President pro tem Toni G. Atkins said it was honor to be present at the Gala and expressed her thanks to the members of the Armenian-American community for their unified efforts in “today’s divisive world.”

She applauded the efforts of the Glendale City Council for their “incredible contributions in turning the Armenian American Museum a reality.”

“You are planting a seed kernel of understanding,” said Atkins. “We all have stories to share and we are all a part of a bigger family and I thank you for what you have taught me about Armenians.”

Award presentations were made to California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, California State Senator Anthony J. Portantino, California State Senate President pro Tempore Emeritus Kevin de Leon and the Glendale City Council, including Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and Councilmembers Ara Najarian, Paula Devine, Vartan Gharpetian, and Vrej Agajanian. The Glendale City Council was instrumental in dedicating land in Glendale for the historic project, marking Glendale Central Park as the future home of the museum.

“We are proud to support the Armenian American Museum and it is a great honor for the City of Glendale to be the future home of the world class cultural and educational center,” said Mayor Sinanyan, who spoke on behalf of the Glendale City Council.

Master of Ceremonies Araksya Karapetyan

Since the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee Western USA adopted the Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California as its official landmark project in 2014, a total of a $4 million commitment was made from the State of California. In a surprise announcement, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger delivered a $1 million check for the Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center.

Reflecting on his honor, Senator Anthony Portantino referred to the Museum as a “wonderful project” and noted that California has the largest Armenian population outside Armenia, a fact that should be “celebrated and appreciated.”

“The story of the Armenian-Americans should be told,” said Portantino. “I share this honor with the community that welcomed me and it’s my job to help in any way I can.”

He expressed his thanks to the ongoing support of the Armenian-Americans and their partnership.

“You don’t do this work to get honored,” said Portantino. “You do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

As a member of the early planning stages of the Armenian American Museum, Nazarian secured the initial $1 million within the California State Budget “to help build a beautiful museum in the heart of Glendale.”

“The museum will be a cultural campus that empowers individuals to embrace diversity,” said Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. “I am grateful to have been an honoree at the Inaugural Gala and look forward to seeing the museum come to life and offer a meaningful space for conversation.”

Entertainment was provided by singer Alene Aroustamian with musical partner Vahan Bznuni. The Flag Ceremony was conducted by the AGBU and Homenetmen Scouts and the National Anthems were sung by the Glendale High School Choir under the direction of Grace Sheldon-Williams. The Opening Prayer was led by the museum’s Board of Trustees Co-Chairs, including Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Primate of the Western Prelacy, Bishop Mikael Mouradian, of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy in the United States and Canada, and Reverend Berdj Djambazian, of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America.

For more information about the Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center, please visit https://www.armenianamericanmuseum.org/

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