Rep. Sherman calls on White House to permanently display Armenian Orphan Rug at Smithsonian

Congressman Brad Sherman, in a letter to President Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough criticizing the White House’s decision to keep the Armenian Orphan Rug in storage, has called for the permanent public display of this historic artwork at the Smithsonian Institution, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Noting that, “an exhibit to display this relic at the Smithsonian was canceled due to the White House’s inexplicable decision not to loan out the rug,” Representative Sherman stressed that, “this unique work should not be hidden away in storage.  Instead, it should be displayed on a permanent basis at the Smithsonian.  It is in our national interest to recognize and remember the past.  We must acknowledge and learn from the tragic crimes against humanity that orphaned the weavers of this rug to ensure that they are never repeated.  I urge the White House to take this intricate piece of history out of storage and to display it at the Smithsonian permanently.”

“We join with Armenian Americans in California and across America in thanking Congressman Sherman for his principled leadership in seeking a prominent and permanent public display for this powerful artistic symbol of shared American and Armenian heritage,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

The ANCA launched a grassroots campaign yesterday calling upon the White House and Congress to secure a prominent and permanent public display of the historic rug, woven by Armenian Genocide orphans and presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 in appreciation for U.S. humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of Turkey’s murder of over 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923.

The Armenian orphan rug measures 11’7″ x 18’5″ and is comprised of 4,404,206 individual knots.  It took the Armenian girls in the Ghazir Orphanage of the Near East Relief Society 10 months to weave.  A label on the back of the rug, in large hand-written letters, reads “IN GOLDEN RULE GRATITUDE TO PRESIDENT COOLIDGE.”

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