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Melikian Exhibition Preview

  • Manoogian Museum 22001 Northwestern Highway Southfield, MI, 48075 United States (map)

Invitational preview "Celebrating & Preserving Our Cultures"

Featuring a Collection of Armenian and Jewish Artifacts from the James & Ana Melikian Collection from Scottsdale, Arizona

A Metro-Detroit First -- Manoogian Museum to Present the James and Ana Melikian Collection

As part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum in Southfield, MI, in the fall of 2017, James Melikian was invited to present a special exhibit titled "Celebrating &  Preserving Our Cultures" featuring selected artifacts (Armenian and Jewish) at the Museum.

 It was James Melikian's interest and love of history (with a B.S. degree in history from Arizona State University) that led him to begin collecting in 2004. His initial purchases were Armenian books and artifacts which immediately connected him to his Armenian heritage. Melikian ultimately found his real passion, however, when he expanded his focus to include cultural objects about the world's major religions - Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

The Melikian family have long been patrons of the arts and their community both in New York and now in Phoenix. James's parents Greg and Emma Melikian were on the board of the Arizona Opera, The Phoenix Art Museum, and the Armenian Church of Arizona. They founded the Melikian Center Critical Languages program at Arizona State University which teaches languages crucial to today's modern political issues such as Hebrew, Persian, Bosnian, Armenian, and Tatar. They also were major supporters and founders of the Armenian Church in Phoenix. While Gregory bought and preserved many historical buildings as a real estate investor, Emma Ordjanian Melikian has collected oriental antiques for decades and inspired her children's interest in history and the arts. Emma's brother Nikit Ordjanian established the Armenian Studies Chair at Columbia University in New York City, as well as the Armenian Exposition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

James Melikian's eclectic views resulted in his collecting bibles in different languages, crosses made of gold, silver, and wood, prayer rugs, bible covers, icons, manuscripts in many languages, textiles, altarpieces, pictorial pictures, and even reliquaries. He has acquired over 4000 artifacts and he is still collecting. His wife Ana is actively involved in the business and works closely with Jim, retaining a watchful eye over their acquisition investments.

According to Sharon Liberman Mintz, Curator of Jewish Art at the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and Senior Consultant/Judaica, at Sotheby's Auction House in New York, "The Melikian Collection comprises a remarkably wide ranging selection of Judaic objects and presents an outstanding overview of Jewish culture and religion from communities spanning the globe. Meticulously crafted and intricately ornamented Torah cases and Hanukkah lamps will be displayed along with beautifully illuminated documents and finely printed Hebrew books. Of particular note are the numerous Bibles translated into an astonishing variety of languages including Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, German, Latin and even Judeo-Tartar. This exhibition will be a feast for the eyes and should not be missed."

To date, the Melikian Collection has been featured in ten exhibits across the United States. Some recent exhibits include"Phoenix Rising: The Valley Collects" - featuring works from twenty private collections in Phoenix, AZ, and the surrounding area at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2016; "The Bible: Crossing Religion and Language: Excerpts from the Melikian Collection" in 2015 at the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies; Melikian Bible Symposium in 2015 - "The Melikian Bible Collection Wanderings of the Sephardic Jews, from Spain and the New World to India" at the Sylvia Plotkin Judaic Museum, Congregation Beth Israel, Scottsdale; and "Sacred Word and Image: Five World Religions" at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2012. The collection has also been on view at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York, the BYU Museum of Art, and elsewhere.

 Some items on display at the Manoogian Museum will include a silver-mounted Torah case (most likelyJerusalem 1923) from the collection of the late Shlomo Moassaieff and probably given by his grandfather to the Bokharan Synagogue he built in Jerusalem; a massive and impressive damascened handmade brass Synagogue Hanukkah lamp (made in Syria in the early part of the 20th century) from the Shlomo Moassaieff Collection; and the Franz Joseph I (1830-1916) Emperor of Austria Grant of Arms to Jacob Levi, Court Banker to the Khedive of Egypt, by Alexander Krapf. Also on display will be a first edition of an Armenian book titled Life of Saints by Krikor Vartabed Margevanetsi - printed in Constantinople in 1708. The book was rescued from a fire in Jerusalem by an Armenian priest; Melikian acquired the book and fully restored it. A rare collection of early Jewish Children's books from around the world will also be there for viewing.

James Melikian recently acquired a grouping of gold medals and letters given to Jewish-Austrian athlete Gerda Gottlieb, a pentathlon and swimming champion who held both the world and American records in standing high jump in the 1930s. Gottlieb survived World War II and made it to the U.S.A. Although the exhibit items had already been determined, it was decided that this unusual acquisition be initially featured at the Manoogian Museum.

Opened in 1992, the Alex & Marie Manoogian Museum of 12,000 square feet, was founded by Alex Manoogian, prominent benefactor and industrialist, as both an artistic endeavor and an attempt to reconstruct the history of the Armenian people throughout the ages. The Museum contains the most historically significant collection of Armenian art and artifacts outside Armenia. Currently numbering over 1,500 items, the collection featured in eight galleries includes illuminated manuscripts, early printed books, rugs and carpets, sacred vessels and vestments, textiles and embroidery, ceramics, metalwork, paintings, practical and personal objects, ancient and medieval coins, and objects from Urartu, the ancient kingdom that flourished in the Armenian Highlands from the ninth to the early sixth century B.C.E.

Designed by museum professionals, the distinctive galleries serve to expand and enhance the mosaic of the Michigan cultural scene. In 2013, with the publication of A Legacy of Armenian Treasures--Testimony to a People: The Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum, the "Museum stakes its claim to be not just a showcase but a serious center for research on the long traditions of Armenian art," according to the Foreword by Thomas F. Mathews, Professor Emeritus, The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.

As stated in the Legacy book, "The Manoogian family continues the tradition of support and leadership to ensure the perpetuity of this unique institution, where these Armenian treasures have found a permanent home--one that is close to the descendants of the survivors of historic Armenia."

An invitational preview opening of the Melikian Collection is scheduled for October 26, 2017 at the Manoogian Museum located within the Armenian Cultural Complex in Southfield. The collection will remain at the Museum through mid-January 2018. As of November 1st, the exhibit will be open to the public by appointment only Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Special events and evening tours may also be arranged by appointment. There is an admission fee of $5 to the Museum. For more information, please call 248-557-5977.

This is the first time that the James and Ana Melikian Collection will be featured in the Metro-Detroit area. For information and directions to the Manoogian Museum, please view -

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