BELMONT, MA—The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) received on May 18, 2017, a grant of $225,000 from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund of the Massachusetts Cultural Council to go toward construction of an elevator and other accessibility features as part of NAASR’s $4.5 million project for its headquarters on Concord Avenue in Belmont. With this grant NAASR has commitments for 70% of the total budget.
NAASR’s aim is to transform its building, which has remained virtually unchanged since its purchase in 1989, and to welcome the public with a redesigned bookstore, lounge café, scholars’ conference room, and garden atrium and solarium, encouraging research, study, lectures, informal gatherings, and professional activities centered around Armenian Studies. The building transformation is being overseen by Symmes Maini & McKee Associations (SMMA) of Cambridge, MA.
Renovations to the building, funded in part with this grant, will bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by adding an elevator serving all levels, an entry ramp, and accessible rest rooms. The renovation will also add a fourth level (third story) to the building, with a 150-person event hall and state-of-the-art audio-visual technology to allow live streaming and remote participants and presenters from throughout the world.
“This grant is essential in helping to preserve our rare holdings for future generations and make them accessible to all,” said Yervant Chekijian, NAASR’s Chairman of the Board. “With the latest technologies incorporated into the building, we will be able to connect people from around the world and truly become a global center for Armenian Studies.”
The initial reason for NAASR’s capital project was to preserve NAASR’s rare books, periodicals, and archives in NAASR’s Edward and Helen Mardigian Library, one of the top five publicly accessible Armenian Studies libraries in the world, soon to reach 40,000 volumes in diverse languages and alphabets, with holdings dating to the 1600s.
The library has grown to become world class and is a living legacy of culture and history after the Armenian Genocide. NAASR’s holdings are mostly in Armenian, but many are in Turkish, Persian, Russian, French, English, Arabic, and German, and other languages, and NAASR welcomes anyone to browse and study in the library.
The inspiring design and upgraded accessibility will draw professionals, students, scholars, thought leaders, genealogical researchers, and the general public into the building to attend evening programs, study, conduct research, browse the bookstore, and connect with each other.
“ We are thrilled and honored to be selected for a Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund grant,” said NAASR Executive Director Sarah Ignatius . “It comes at the exact right moment to motivate people to make our vision a reality. And we are grateful that Massachusetts recognizes the critical importance of supporting capital investments to cultural non-profits.”
Founded in 1955, NAASR is the only national, non-profit organization serving as a bridge between Armenian Studies scholars and the public, to preserve and enrich Armenian culture, history, and identity for future generations. Each year, NAASR hosts over 40 lectures on a wide range of topics from 5th century art to contemporary realities in the Republic of Armenia and the Near East.
NAASR lectures reach a multi-generational audience, which includes students, professionals, and the general public, and encompasses NAASR’s contemporary topics series, supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with programs on Syrian Armenians, Nagorno-Karabagh, Armenian identity, and diasporan involvement in Armenia’s development.
Each year, NAASR awards grants to scholars and recently helped to fund Prof. Taner Akçam’s groundbreaking work uncovering lost evidence about the Armenian Genocide. NAASR also operates one of the largest English-language bookstores on Armenian topics, available onsite and online through NAASR’s website at www.naasr.org .
NAASR’s mission is to foster Armenian Studies and build community worldwide to preserve and enrich Armenian culture, history, and identity for future generations. NAASR achieved its initial ambitious goal of advancing Armenian Studies by raising funds to help endow the first chairs of Armenian Studies at Harvard and UCLA less than 50 years after the Armenian Genocide, and has since gone on to support other endowed positions, which now exist at 13 universities, increasing awareness of Armenian contributions to world culture and civilization, and laying the factual foundation upon which Genocide recognition rests, leading to a new generation relying on NAASR for academic research and connections to the public.
For more information about NAASR visit www.naasr.org or contact [email protected] or 617-489-1610.