WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) this week announced the appointment of Dr. Susan Pattie as its new director. Pattie comes to ALMA after a long residence in London, where she was co-founder and director of the Armenian Institute. She is a senior research fellow at University College London and taught courses in anthropology there and at other universities, most recently at Aga Khan University and the Syracuse University London Program.
Born in Washington, D.C., Pattie grew up in the area, leaving for Michigan to attend Hope College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in art. After working as an artist/craftsperson, she began her Ph.D. studies in cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, doing fieldwork with the Armenian community of Cyprus and later research in Armenia, Syria, and North America. She is the author of Faith in History: Armenians Rebuilding Community (Smithsonian Institution Press), various academic articles, and contributions to edited volumes, as well as two recent books aimed at a wider audience.
Who Are the Armenians? (with Gagik Stepan Sarkissian and Maral Kerovpyan), written for 6-12 year-olds, coincidentally bears the same title as a major exhibition designed and currently showcased at ALMA. Both serve to present Armenian heritage and culture to a broad public, Armenian and non-Armenian alike. Pattie’s most recent book, Treasured Objects: Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 100 Years Ago (with Vazken Davidian and Gagik Stepan Sarkissian), is also a serendipitous match with ALMA and its rich collections.
Pattie’s work with the Armenian Institute has also focused on raising awareness of Armenian heritage and culture, and encouraging the exploration of what it means to be Armenian in the 21st-century diaspora in all its diverse dimensions. Susan Pattie is married to Levon Chilingirian, a violinist and leader of the Chilingirian Quartet, and has one son, Stepan.
Located in Watertown, ALMA holds the most extensive collection of Armenian artifacts in the diaspora, some dating back many centuries, as well as a large library of many valuable books. With its roots in one of the oldest but still vibrant New World communities, ALMA has numerous outreach programs, from curator-led tours of its galleries to traveling exhibitions.