Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff announced that the White House has agreed to exhibit the “Armenian Orphan Rug” in the near future, likely this fall. The rug, woven by orphans of the Armenian Genocide in 1920, was presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 as a symbol of gratitude for American aid and generosity for U.S. assistance during the genocide. The Armenian Orphan Rug, which measures 11’7″ x 18’5”, has over 4,000,000 hand-tied knots and took the Armenian girls in the Ghazir Orphanage of the Near East Relief Society 10 months to weave.
President Coolidge noted that, “The rug has a place of honor in the White House where it will be a daily symbol of goodwill on earth.” The rug – which has been in storage at the White House for decades – was supposed to be released for exhibition in a Smithsonian event for the launch of Hagop Martin Deranian’s new book “President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug.” Unfortunately, the rug was not able to be displayed at that time.
“Since first raising this issue with the Administration, I have worked diligently with the White House to find a way for the Ghazir rug to be sensitively and appropriately displayed,” said Rep. Schiff. “Today, I’m pleased to be able to say that planning is underway for the Armenian Orphan Rug to be displayed as early as this fall. I have worked out with the White House that the display will take place in a venue that is open to the general public, and I appreciate their willingness to place this significant artifact on display for all to see.”
Schiff and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) sent a letter, along with 31 other Members, to President Obama last year urging the Administration to allow exhibition of the rug. The full letter is below, and can be found here, and in the letter they stated: “The Armenian Orphan Rug is a piece of American history and it belongs to the American people. For over a decade, Armenian American organizations have sought the public display of the rug and have requested the White House and the State Department grant their request on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, Armenian Americans have yet to have their requests granted.We urge you to release this American treasure for exhibition.”
Since sending the letter, Schiff has worked with the White House to find a way for the rug to be sensitively and appropriately displayed. Details of the future exhibition will be released as they come available.