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From 1915 through 1918, more than a million Armenians living under Ottoman rule were massacred. Many who survived the genocide fled their homeland, some secretly harboring sacred objects as they passed through border stations on their journey to the United States, Boston Globe reported.

The founders of the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown rented the basement of a Belmont church, which served as the museum from 1986 to 1990, when it moved to its current quarters at 65 Main St.

As if by reflex, some of the objects were boxed again. That is, until this past January, when Jennifer Liston Munson joined the museum as its new executive director.

“Now,” she said, “we are able to emerge from that initial impulse of protect and preserve, to present and share.”

The museum’s long-stored “objects of witness and survival” will be spotlighted in a new first-floor gallery opening on Nov. 15. At a free opening reception, guests can enjoy food and refreshments, speeches by museum leadership, and live music by Armenian cellist Kate Kayaian.

The museum’s collection is a vast repository, with 5,000 ancient and medieval Armenian coins, more than 3,000 textiles, religious artifacts, ceramics, medieval illuminations, and library. The 1969 brutalist-style building was designed by Ben Thompson, a member of the Architects Collaborative and founder of Design Research.

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