First was the ribbon cutting, and then the unveiling of the commemorative plaque .
The William Saroyan House Museum is officially open. A gift to Fresno from Armenia. — The project fully funded by the “Renaissance” Cultural and Intellectual Foundation, an Armenian non-profit. They bought the house in 2016, and transformed it into an innovative and interactive tribute designed to feel very “Saroyan-esque”
“He’s inviting you in and you are in a different atmosphere and I think this is Saroyan style atmosphere. He was not a usual man,” says Hakob Hakobyan of the Renaissance Cultural and Intellectual Foundation.
The museum illuminates with hundreds of images; photographs from throughout Saroyan’s life, dozens of sketches and water colors. And a wall highlighting Saroyan’s literary works that brought him international fame.
Among the visitors: Saroyan’s nephew Hank. “I think what he would like is the attention he’s getting but his whole thing in life was get em to read what I wrote,” he says.
The highlight of the museum is the opportunity to hear from Saroyan himself. A hologram of the writer standing and walking in a room with a desk and typewriter. Much like it might have been when he was alive. It’s an important tribute to Fresno’s cultural past that will play an important role in the future.
“The contributions that he made and other generations made that turned this century into a lot of history in this city and in this museum, those memories live on.” says Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.
In addition to local dignitaries, the Armenian Ambassador to Washington attended the opening. As did Artur Janibekyan who created the foundation and donated the financing for the museum. It’s now open to the public by appointment. Admission is free.