On the occasion of the centennial of the Armenian genocide, an exhibition titled "Armenia. The people of the Ark" is taking place from March 6th to May 3rd in the Central Hall of Vittoriano Museum Complex in Rome. The exhibition is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Italy, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the Holy See and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, with close cooperation with the Mekhitarist Congregation. The exhibition also enjoys the valuable support of the Union of the Armenians of Italy.
The aim and strong desire of the organizers is to involve Italian and international public in an evocative experience of exploring the rich Armenian culture. The exhibition is a vivid example of synergies among Armenian institutions (History Museum of Armenia - The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, Museums of Holy Etchmiadzin) and Italian ones (National Archive of Genova, National Archive of Venice, Municipal Museums of Venice, Correr Museum, Riccardiana Library of Florence, Mekhitarist Monastery Library of San Lazzaro, Braschi Palace Museum of Rome). Mr Vartan Karapetian is the main consultant of the Exhibition while Comunicare Organizzando is in charge for the organization and set up of the exhibition.
The exhibition strives to present in a best illustrative way one of the most flourishing cultures of the ancient world. The incredible mixture of traditions, cultures and religions of Armenia laid a solid ground for the establishment of close relationships between Armenians and Italy. Armenia and Italy have twenty centuries of cultural influences and interactions: from the apricot - armellino in Venetian dialect - brought to ancient Rome by Sulla and known as prunus armeniaca to the Armenian merchants of the Maritime Republics, from the ideals of Italian Renaissance having reached the distant Armenia to the thriving publishing endeavors of the Armenian cultural institutes in Italy.
The exhibition is divided into seven sections comprising rich archaeological findings, ancient manuscripts, works of art, illustrations, and documentaries. In the first section, the visitors will plunge into the pieces of the Armenian cultural peculiarity, where Christian history and numerous Biblical references constitute an inalienable part. The second section will describe the conversion of the Armenians to Christianity through a display of a constructed altar, with cowl flaps, incense burner and chapiters. The narration through symbols will also continue in the third section, dedicated to the iconography of the cross (the cross-stone from VI-VII century and the cross with the Saint George remains of 1746 among others). Original epigraphs and inscriptions will help to discover the important fourth section which will focus on the creation and codification of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots. A Multimedia presentation will allow the public to partake in the exploration of the Armenian language. The fifth section will be dedicated to arts and architecture: among eastern Christian cultures, the Armenian had always stood out for its remarkable originality and symbiotic capacity encompassing Byzantine, Islamic and Western influences. Among other works of art, the precious Mlke Queen Gospel from 862 will be displayed at this exhibition.
This year marks the centenary of the genocide that in 1915 led to the deportation and annihilation of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire. The exhibition “Armenia. The people of the Ark” in its sixth section envisages video documentaries on the history of the massacres and tells about Italian solidarity in sheltering the genocide survivors. The seventh section is devoted to Italian-Armenian relations and to the historical and cultural richness of the Armenian presence in our country, from the late Middle Ages when Italy was at the heart of important commercial routes between Europe and the East. Flourishing Armenian communities were formed and developed in Venice, Livorno, Genova, Rome, Bologna, Milan, Naples and Padua. A journey following the footsteps of monks, merchants, artists and writers helps visitors to discover the treasures of the Mekhitarist Monastery of San Lazzaro in Venice and treasures of Armenians preserved in Italy.
The two-volume catalogue published by Skira consists of a book on the exhibition, edited by Mr. Vartan Karapetian and Mr. Paolo Lucca, and another book on the genocide edited by Prof. Baykar Sivazliyan.