First published in the Feb. 19 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
A piece of local history now lies encased in the concrete that will form the foundation of Glendale’s newest museum.
Dignitaries watched with pride on Thursday as crews placed a time capsule inside a small hole in the excavated site for the Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center. In the capsule were the printed meeting minutes from years ago — Jan. 13, 2014, to be exact — when the decision to construct the museum was made.
With the site formerly known as Central Park now excavated, rebar is going up and concrete is going in, seven months after the museum construction formally broke ground. Thursday was “the big pour,” as Mayor Paula Devine coined it, the “concrete beginning, no pun intended” of the cultural landmark to-be.
“I was just here about three weeks ago, and there was nothing here but dirt,” she told the group that morning. “Today, the progress is absolutely incredible. To me, this is one step closer to the dream that’s going to be right here, for all of us who are just so privileged to have this museum in our city.”
The multimillion-dollar facility, bolstered by a wave of public funding and private donations, will add a two-story museum to downtown Glendale with permanent and rotating historical, artistic and cultural exhibits showcasing Armenian American history. Armenians have been particularly prominent in California, where large population clusters — including, perhaps most famously, Glendale — have propelled men and women to prominent political, business and artistic roles.
“It is a dream project for any nation, a dream for any city — but it is happening,” said Armen Baibourtian, the consul general of Armenia in Los Angeles, based in Glendale. “It’s going to spring up here in Glendale, and today is a milestone in that direction.
“It’s also a symbol of unity,” Baibourtian continued, “unity of the Armenian community, of diverse Los Angeles and, more importantly, Glendale in the center of all this diversity.”
In addition to representatives from the museum, other officials attending Thursday’s event — postponed from Tuesday on account of rain — included the full Glendale City Council, City Manager Roubik Golanian and Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, who has helped secure state funding for the project.
Nazarian spoke that day about how the Armenian diaspora — which numbers significantly higher than Armenia’s current population — has changed the world since it was scattered a century ago by the Ottoman Empire’s genocide.
“Wherever Armenians have settled, their diaspora has thrived,” he said. “It has worked with the local community and it has woven a beautiful tapestry of not only inserting its cultural roots but also highlighting the very community that it’s been adopted by. This is a continuation of that very model.”
Nazarian, who is seeking reelection in an assembly district that was redrawn to now include north Glendale, observed that there could be no better place for such an institution than this very state.
“How symbolic,” he said, “that it’s right here in California, home to the largest absorption of diasporan communities that have fled trauma.”