Support Committee of the Armenian Museum of France
Mail: [email protected]
Tel: +33 (0)783 073 628
We must save the Armenian Museum of France.
The Armenian Museum of France (AMF), which holds one of the largest
collections of Armenian art in Europe, some of which master pieces were
exhibited at the Louvre, is closed and no longer has access to its
collection. The museum is thus obliged to decline all institution’s lending
requests that are addressed to it for the centenary commemoration of the
Armenian genocide, which takes place in April 2015.
Lies, broken promises, prohibiting access to the museum’s team…, we call on
the Ministry of Culture to honor its commitments and to return the Armenian
Museum to its exhibition status.
Remembering the facts:
1953: A ministerial decree assigned the use of the ground floor of the
Ennery building (59 Avenue Foch, Paris, 16th) to the AMF. The Ennery
Museum, located on the top floor and under the authority of the Guimet
Museum, was originated by the donation of the Ennery spouses of their hotel
and its collection to the State (doc. nÂ°1).
1995: Security problems on the first floor caused the closure of the
building. This closure was extended until 2011 due to lack of public
funding for the upgrading. An exceptional opening on the ground floor was
obtained through the intervention of the President of the Republic Jacques
Chirac during the Year of Armenia in France (doc. nÂ°2 and 3). This
showcased the exhibition “The Paths of Armenia” which received 6000
visitors in six weeks. During this year, several works from the collection
of the AMF were loaned to the Louvre for the “Armenia Sacra” exhibition.
2011: The Ministry of Culture through the voice of its Head Director of
Heritage (Directeur GÃ©nÃ©ral des Patrimoines), wrote to the AMF that the
rehabilitation of the Ennery Museum was finally on the agenda and required
removal of the collections of the AMF for safety. He stated: “I certify the
resettlement -of the Armenian museum- in the same Ennery building at the
end of construction in April 2012” (doc. nÂ°4 and 5). Collections of
AMF were thus put in crates and moved for the rehabilitation. The Ennery
museum was inaugurated in March 2012 in the presence of the Minister of
Culture FrÃ©dÃ©ric Mitterrand.
May 2012: Following the return of an AMF exhibition outside its walls,
museum’s team found all of the designated AMF rooms occupied by storage for
the Ennery museum, and the Guimet museum authority refused to remove
nÂ°6). On intervention of the Direction des MusÃ©es, following many requests
from the AMF, the Ministry of Culture approved partial repatriation of the
Armenian museum collections, which were kept in crates in their spare room
in the Ennery building, but access to the exhibition rooms was still
prohibited. French Presidency also recognizes the commitment of the
Ministry of Culture to have the AMF back in its exhibition space (doc. nÂ°8
March 2014: The Guimet museum authorities changed the locks of the AMF
premises, and denied access to AMF’s team. The lack of response from the
Ministry of Culture thus actually prevents any participation of the
Armenian Museum to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian genocide (doc.
nÂ°10 to 15). Today, the museum work is totally stopped, and no one knows
what has happened to the Armenian museum collections.
Since April 2014: Proceedings are pending in the Paris courts so that the
museum’s rights can be restored, regain access to its collections, and
obtain an explanation of the determination by the Ministry of Culture not
to reinstate the Armenian Museum of France in its agreed place.
2015: Noting has changed and the AMF situation is still the same. A
petition that has already collected more than 8,000 signatures on change.org
has been launched and is addressed to the President of the Republic
FranÃ§ois Hollande and the Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin.
Support Committee of the Armenian Museum of France
Mail: [email protected]
Tel: +33 (0)783 073 628
Information on the Armenian Museum Of France
I/ 1953 – 2012: BIRTH AND LIFE OF THE ARMENIAN MUSEUM OF FRANCE
The Armenian Museum of France, depository of the cultural heritage brought
to France by Armenians refugees escaping the genocide of 1915, has been
allowed in April 24, 1953 by a decree of Minister of Culture (document nÂ°1)
to depose his collections in the ground floor at Hotel d’Ennery, 59 avenue
Foch in Paris with the mission to preserve them.
Inauguration of the Armenian Museum of France on October 9, 1953 with the
attendance of French Republic President Vincent Auriol, Foreign Affairs
Minister, Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Education.
[image: Images intÃ©grÃ©es 1]
1) 1953 – 1995: FIRST PERIOD, OPENING TO THE PUBLIC
Established by Armenian refugees for the benefit of French people and for
future generations, the museum’s collections regroup nearly 1200 works
retracing 3000 years of the history of Armenia. On October 2, 1978, by a
decree of Prime Minister Raymond Barre, the collections were recognized to
be of public interest and inalienable to the benefit of France.
Archeology, religious arts, manuscript arts, profane arts, folk arts,
paintings, sculptures, form this unique collection in Europe presented on
For half a century in Paris, the public have been able to discover this
Several works from the collection has been exhibited at the Louvre and
Maritime Museum in Paris during the `Year of Armenia in France’ in 2007.
[image: Images intÃ©grÃ©es 2]
Exhibition space of the Armenian Museum[image: Images intÃ©grÃ©es 3]
of France, 59 avenue Foch, Paris
2) 1995 – 2011: SECOND PERIOD, OPENING TO THE OUTSIDE
In 1995, in the need of rehabilitation works the Armenian Museum of France
and the Ennery Museum was closed to the public.
French state owning the building, Armenian Museum of France had to wait for
the works to be done.
During these times the museum presented its collections through external
exhibitions, meanwhile continuing scientific studies and restoration works.
At the same time the realization of his web site opened
virtually the museum to all public.
In 2007, during the Year of Armenia in France, the Armenian Museum of
France after the intervention of French President Jacques Chirac, has been
authorized to open temporarily for six weeks after an urgently upgrading of
Letter from the President of the French Republic to the Armenian Museum of
The Councillor for Education and Culture of Mr Jacques Chirac, April 13th,
“…The Head of State thanks you and has instructed me to answer you.
This museum has a unique collection, and this is a chance for our country
to host it. The President is pleased that he has been associated with the
Year of Armenia in France, with the exhibition “The Paths of Armenia.”
“… The Ministry of Culture and Communication, especially the Direction
des MusÃ©es de France, will implement all the means at their disposal to
ensure that the Armenian Museum collections include a place that reflects
their importance.” Document nÂ°2
Exhibition “The roads of Armenia” in the Armenian Museum of France
sponsored by the Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres (Document
nÂ°3), March-April 2007.
More than 6,000 visitors – the majority French – were received in
weeks for this exceptional opening.
The Armenian Museum of France, during the Year of Armenia in France and up
to 2012, participates in Armenian art exhibitions and is exposed in the
major French museums.
Hope of a long sustained reopening for the Armenian Museum of France is
` Armenia Sacra ‘ exhibition
February 21 – May 21, 2007
MusÃ©e National de la Marine
` AÃ¯vazovski, la poÃ©sie de la mer ‘ exhibition,
February -May 28, 2007
` de l’ArmÃ©nie Ãƒ Montmartre ‘ exhibition,
April 4 – June 24, 2007
Scriptorial d’Avranches, partnership with the
French National Library
` Reflets d’ArmÃ©nie ‘ exhibition,
February 1 -May 6, 2012
II/ THE PROGRAMMED DEATH OF THE ARMENIAN MUSEUM: 2012-2014
>From 2012, the desire to see the Armenian Museum of France disappear has
arisen within certain institutions. This has resulted in illegal attempt to
spoil the Armenian Museum of its space and forbid access to its
collections, all this with an astonishing silence of the Ministry of
1) FIRST STEP: 2011, REMOVAL OF THE ARMENIAN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS FOR
PARTIAL RENOVATION OF THE BUILDING AT THE REQUEST OF THE MINISTRY OF
In July 2011, the Ministry of Culture, through the voice of its Director of
Heritage, Philippe Belaval, informed the Armenian Museum that renovations
works must be undertaken in the building to allow the reopening of the
Ennery museum. Same letter asked to move away the collections for security
reasons, while certifying their resettlement at the same place at the end
of works. Letter from the Director of Heritage (Direction des Patrimoines),
July 26, 2011. Document nÂ°4
The Armenian Museum logically released its showrooms early September 2011,
and carried its collections on hand in a warehouse in the Paris suburbs
waiting to come back to the Ennery Hotel.
Letter from FrÃ©dÃ©ric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture, February 23, 2012 to
the Director of the Armenian Museum. The Minister thanked “personally and
very deeply” the Armenian Museum for leaving its rooms available in order
to allow the renovation of the Ennery Museum. Document nÂ°5
2) SECOND STEP: 2012, SPOLIATION OF THE ARMENIAN MUSEUM’S ROOMS
The renovation, financed entirely by the Ministry of Culture, was completed
on time, and the Ennery Museum – beautifully restored – was inaugurated on
March 13, 2012 in the presence of FrÃ©dÃ©ric Mitterrand, the Minister of
In a letter from April 2, 2012, the Armenian Museum of France logically
asked the Ministry of Culture and the Guimet Museum to notify on what date
it will reintegrate its rooms, but the commitment of the Ministry of July
26, 2011 was no longer considered valid.
Response from Mr. Olivier de Bernon, President of the Guimet Museum, in
his letter of April 26, 2012:
“The rooms occupied by your collections are not available.” See photos
“Therefore I cannot offer you more, while waiting for a better solution,
than to seek with you in the Ennery building, a suitable place to receive
your collections, kept in their packaging.” Document nÂ°6
Since 2012, the halls of the Armenian Museum have been used for storage
(empty shelves, boxes …).
Today, these shelves still occupy the rooms.
[image: Images intÃ©grÃ©es 4]
Pictures taken during a bailiff visit on May 30, 2012, after the refusal of
the Ministry of Culture to honor its commitment of 26 July 2011 (document
nÂ°4) to return these rooms to the Armenian Museum of France.
[image: Images intÃ©grÃ©es 5]
After many requests from the Armenian Museum, the “Direction des MusÃ©es de
France”, given the high cost of abroad warehouse storage of collections,
authorized only the partial return in October 2012 to the former reserve
room at the Hotel Ennery.
However up today it is impossible to recover the showroom. The rest of the
collections remains stuck in the warehouse near Paris.
3) THIRD STEP, A KIND OF DEFAMATION BY THE MINISTER OF CULTURE?
In the book “La rÃ©crÃ©ation” (The recess) by FrÃ©dÃ©ric Mitterrand, published
October 24, 2013, on his visit to the Armenian Museum, the “author”
disavows “the Minister”, without comment…
Letter from FrÃ©dÃ©ric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture, 14.03.2012 addressed
to the Head of the Armenian Museum of France:
“You know my attachment to the history of art particularly that of
Armenian heritage, the Armenian Museum of France is one of the most
“You also call my attention to the difficulties currently faced by your
establishment….” Document nÂ°7
>From June 2009 to May 2012, during the time which Frederic Mitterrand was
Minister, the director of the Armenian Museum addressed 17 letters to the
Ministry of Culture, mainly to search for a suitable and sustainable
location for exposure.
Excerpt from “Recess” by FrÃ©dÃ©ric Mitterrand, page 90:
“… On the ground floor, an Armenian museum filled with caftans and an
incredible bric-a-brac from multiple inheritances. An old and anxious
gentleman (note: the President of the Armenian Museum of France), out of a
closet, panics at the idea that someone might one day be interested in this
nice mess; he made up his mind to keep it hidden until the end of time.”
[image: Images intÃ©grÃ©es 6]
The case of the official residence of the Hotel d’Ennery:
[image: Images intÃ©grÃ©es 7]
Remember, the rooms on the ground floor are occupied by the Armenian
Museum, those of the first floor by the Ennery Museum, the 2nd and top
floor houses an apartment.
This apartment is used as the official residence of the President of the
Guimet Museum and was completely renovated between 2008 and 2009.
HÃ´tel d’Ennery, 59 avenue Foch, Paris 16Ã¨me
FrÃ©dÃ©ric Mitterrand writes in “La rÃ©crÃ©ation” when visiting the Hotel
Ennery in November 2009:
“I hear scraping from the top floor and notice a small staircase that
leads to carpeted fees. “It’s nothing up there, there is nothing to see,
sir,” cries the chorus of guides increasingly supplied with heart-rending
anguish. I go upstairs, two Moroccan workers are now scratching the floors,
giving the final touches to a superb renovated apartment that opens onto
the foliage of the avenue. Given the price per square meter in this area, I
mentally calculate the happiness of the mysterious tenant.
The two Moroccans are excited by my surprise visit, they saw me on TV and
are very talkative in telling me about the workflow. The procession that
followed me hears this innocent confession in stony silence. Some very
pale, some others red as a lobster, all looking at their feet. Finally,
someone denounces: the `official residence’ of the Museum’s President, he
said under his breath. I shorten the agony and left the whole company
petrified. There are other abandoned museums like this in Paris,
disappeared from the field of view of the State which is in charge yet, but
not lost for everyone … ” (page 91 of the first edition).
Despite this refurbishment, the official residence has been occupied only
for a few months. It has been vacant since 2011. Since then, the President
of the Guimet Museum now occupies another official residence in the 16th
district of Paris.
4) FOURTH STEP, 2012-2014: THE SILENCE OF THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE, THE
INACTION OF THE PRESIDENCY
Since the letter from the Guimet Museum’s Director on April 16, 2012
prohibiting the return of the Armenian collections at the Hotel Ennery,
despite the validity of the ministerial decree of 1953 and despite the
written commitment of 26 July 2011 from the Ministry on the reintegration
of the Armenian Museum collections, the 17 letters sent by the Armenian
Museum to the Ministry of Culture – between April 16, 2012 and May 27, 2014
– remain unanswered.
Letters from the President of the French Republic to the Armenian Museum
The Chief of Staff of FranÃ§ois Holland, on March 13th, 2013
“Stay assured that has been noted with a particular attention your wish to
have the Armenian Museum of France reinstated in the two rooms on the
ground floor of the Ennery Museum in Paris, occupied by your collection
until September 2011, as it has been promised by the Head Director of
The Presidency thus recognizes the commitment of the French government to
restore the Armenian Museum into its halls. Document nÂ°8
The Chief of Staff of FranÃ§ois Holland, on October 31st, 2013
“The President of the Republic received the correspondence in which you
share your repeated concerns about the fate of the collections of the
Armenian Museum of France at the approach of the centenary celebrations of
the Armenian genocide. At the request of the Head of State, your comments
have been shared to the new Minister of Culture and Communication to make
it proceed with the careful consideration of this matter. She will keep you
directly informed of the follow up given to your intervention.` Document
The Ministry of Culture did not contact the Armenian Museum of France.
5) FIFTH STEP: NEW EVICTION ATTEMPT OF THE COLLECTIONS OF THE ARMENIAN
MUSEUM OF FRANCE
While the public was invited less than a year ago to the Ennery Museum’s
opening without any limitation, and the apartment on the top floor has
undergone renovation, security problems were put forward as a reason to ask
for, once again, the departure of the collections of the Armenian Museum in
Letter from the President of the Guimet Museum, Ms. Makariou to the
Armenian Museum of France, February 6th, 2014
The president of the Guimet Museum, Mrs Sophie Makariou, successor of Mr.
Olivier de Bernon, informed the Armenian Museum of France on her desire to
place in the Guimet warehouse in March 2014 the Armenian museum collections
that had been partially reinstated in October 2012 in the reserve room of
Hotel d’Ennery, while indicating the search for an exhibition solution for
the Armenian Museum. Document nÂ°10
The Armenian Museum, by a letter on February 25, 2014 to the Director of
the Guimet Museum, sensing a new eviction maneuver this time definitive,
answered that it refuses to move without any confirmation on a new
exhibition space, and emphasized the commitment of the State end the
Ministry to restore it to its exhibition rooms in April 2012.
In a new letter, it is now water infiltration problems that threaten the
ground floor and these are put forward to call for the departure of the
collections. Note that the reserve room of the Armenian Museum is located
on the ground floor, and if water infiltration problems with the roof of
the building had been detected, it would be all the collections, including
the ones of the Ennery Museum on the 1st floor that should be immediately
evacuated (not to mention the official residence on the top floor!).
Letter from the Head Administrator of the Guimet Museum, Mr. Frederic
Sallet to the Armenian Museum of France, on March 12th, 2014
The head administrator of the Guimet Museum, Frederic Sallet, informed the
Armenian Museum that he contacted several transportation companies,
offering to arrange the transfer of the collections before the end of
March. Document nÂ°11
All amicable remedies have been exhausted, the dozens of letters warning
about the situation of the Armenian Museum addressed to the President of
the Republic, the Ministry of Culture and the Director of Heritage remained
unanswered, the Armenian Museum of France has now no other choice to seek
the help of a lawyer to assert its rights.
On March 24th, 2014, arguing the commitments of the State, the lawyer
informs the head administrator of the Guimet Museum, Frederic Sallet, that
the Armenian Museum refuses this forced relocation. Document nÂ°12
6) SIXTH STEP: SILENCING THE ARMENIAN MUSEUM COMPLETELY
The locks of the building have been changed, so the Armenian Museum of
France no longer has access to its collections. The Armenian Museum is
forced to cancel the lending requests from other museums for the 2015
exhibitions, and a TV team from France 2 which came to cover the story has
been prohibited to access to the collections. The relocation of the
collections is “ongoing”.
On March 31st, 2014, the Armenian Museum no longer has access to its
collections. Access to the Hotel d’Ennery is cut off. The keys to the gate
of the building on the avenue have been changed, and the guard of the
Hotel d’Ennery informs in front of witnesses that he has been ordered to
block access to the Armenian Museum of France to its President and anybody
Letter from the Armenian Museum of France addressed to the President of
the Republic of March 31st, 2014 concerning the prohibition that has been
made to access its collections. Document nÂ°13. The letter remained
Calendar coincidence? Pressure attempt? On March 31st, 2014, the Armenian
Museum of France received a bill of 35,000 =82Â¬ for storage costs (April 2012
– March 2014 period) for the collection that could not be reinstated in the
Hotel d’Ennery, due to the occupancy of its rooms by the Guimet Museum.
The storage company, the Chenue Company, that manages the storage of the
largest national museums, were aware of the deadlock orchestrated by the
Guimet Museum and the Director des Patrimoines. Note that since April 2012,
when the company was made aware of the blockage, and in the expectation
that the Ministry of Culture would unravel the situation, no invoice was
sent to the Armenian Museum.
Letter from Frederic Sallet, head administrator of the Guimet Museum, to
the Armenian Museum of France, on April 4th, 2014. Mr. Sallet informed the
Armenian Museum that he had received the letter from its lawyer on its
refusal to move, but still for safety reasons, he “invites” the Director of
the Armenian Museum `to be present to assist and monitor the transfer
operation and set aside (…), transfer that will be supported materially
and financially by the public institution (note: the Museum Guimet)’ and is
at the disposal of the Armenian museum to communicate the date of the
transfer. After changing the locks on the building, Mr. Sallet thus takes
the unilateral decision to move the Armenian Museum’s collection! Document
Since April 2014, the Armenian Museum no longer has access to its
collections, and is unable to respond to lending requests from the MuCEM
in Marseille, the Catholic Institute of Valencia, and Museums of Toulon and
Monaco for the centenary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
Letter from the President of the Armenian Museum of France
to Frederic Sallet, head administrator of the Guimet Museum, on April 24th,
2014. Document nÂ°15. Mr. Sallet was questioned about his behavior and his
decision to move the collections of the Armenian Museum. The letter
7) SEVENTH STEP: THE BLOCKING OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
In early April 2014, the Armenian Museum filed a request in front of the
Administrative Court, but the judge of Administrative Court considered that
this case does not fall under its jurisdiction, but under the High Court
(Tribunal de Grande Instance).
On May 13, 2014, on the eve of the hearing, a surprising event occured: The
Prefet of Paris came in requesting the Prosecutor of the Republic of Paris
and asked for the incompetence of the High Court, after the initial
rejection by the Administrative Court on April 10, 2014.
Letter from the Armenian Museum to the President of the Republic, on May
26th, 2014, explaining the situation faced by the museum, and asking him
to intervene for the commitment of the State to be respected. Document
nÂ°16. The letter remained unanswered.
On June 4th, 2014, at the hearing, the High Court was agreed with the
opinion of the Prefect of Paris and declared itself incompetent to judge
the case. However, the judge proposed a mediation. The Armenian Museum
accepted the mediation, hoping to participate in 2015 with its collections
to commemorate the centenary of the genocide.
On June 6th 2014, the management of the Guimet Museum made known through
his lawyers, its refusal of the mediation.
The situation regarding the access to the Armenian Museum collections has
been completely blocked ever since.
III/ THE ARMENIAN MUSEUM OF FRANCE TODAY
Still today, nobody knows what has happened to the Armenian Museum
collections left inside the Hotel d’Ennery in March 2014.
Facing the blocking of legal proceedings, and the moral duty of the
Armenian Museum of France to participate in the commemoration of the
centenary of the Armenian genocide of 1915, the Support Committee of the
Armenian Museum of France has launched a petition and started to
communicate over social networks.
More than 13,000 supporters around the world – from Facebook and Change.org
– have asked for this unique heritage to be rescued.
One question remains: Why this desire for destruction of the Armenian
cultural heritage in France, on the eve of the centenary of the 1915
Support Committee of the Armenian Museum of France
Mail: [email protected]
Tel: +33 (0)783 073 628
Information on the Armenian Museum Of France