The Museum of the Swiss Abroad at Domaine de Penthes, Switzerland, is pleased to present a major exhibition of Armenian artefacts taken from The Kalfayan Collection. Opening on the 17 April 2015, Switzerland Armenia. The Kalfayan Collection, On the Path of Memory will comprise approximately one hundred and seventy items spanning from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, including manuscripts, textiles, ceramics and metal-works, reflecting the diversity of Armenian culture. The exhibition marks the first time the collection has been shown in Western Europe and will feature recent acquisitions.

In the aftermath of the atrocities of 1915, and the subsequent displacement of the Armenian population of Anatolia, the Kalfayan family were compelled to prevent the destruction and exile of Armenian culture by gathering together surviving objects from the upheaval of the early twentieth century. They began compiling predominantly Armenian objects of all kinds, which gradually led to a significant private collection of over six hundred and fifty works built up over the course of three generations. The Kalfayan Collection brings together a variety of rare and important objects which record the wealth of Armenia’s cultural production and the multitude of influences the country has encountered over the centuries due to its unique geographical position and tumultuous history.

Land-locked and mountainous, Armenia stands in an area where different populations, religions and cultures meet. Between Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam, Armenia has developed a rich and sophisticated cultural spirit. The exhibition will explore the spreading of Armenian settlements in the region through their trading network, which bridged India, China, and as far as the Atlantic Ocean.

The exhibits either belonged to Armenians or were created by Armenian artists and artisans, with many rare items of the finest artistic value as well as simpler works which were mostly donations to churches. The collection reflects the strong influence of the Armenian Church, despite the prevalence of Islam in the surrounding countries, but incorporates both ecclesiastical and secular works, with exceptional porcelains from China, ceramics from Kutahya, decorative objects and manuscripts. The exhibition will also contain new additions to the collection, including an important manuscript dating from 1335-1336 and a page from a manuscript dated circa. 1450.

Domaine de Penthes houses The Institute of the Swiss Abroad and The Museum of the Swiss Abroad, a research centre and gallery exploring the history of Switzerland through the eyes of men and women who have left their homeland and made their mark on the world. Switzerland Armenia. The Kalfayan Collection, On the Path of Memory will explore this central theme of cultural and economic networking and opening up to the world, finding links between the shared experiences of the two countries.