William Saroyan Museum Has Grand Opening In Fresno
On Friday, August 31st (on what would have been his 110th birthday) Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning Armenian-American novelist, screenwriter, painter, poet and songwriter William Saroyan had his Fresno home turned into an interactive museum with a Grand Opening Celebration in Fresno, CA.
This sneak peak (the museum will open to the public on Sept. 18th) was attended by luminaries such as Saroyan's Emmy winning nephew Hank Saroyan, Armenian American actor Ken Davitian, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, Ambassador of Armenia to the United States H.E. Ambassador Grigor Hovhannisian, President of California State University, Fresno Dr. Joseph I. Castro, and Renaissance Cultural and Intellectual Foundation Founder Artur Janibekyan, Director Hakob Hakobyan and Project Manager Avag Simonyan.
The Saroyan House Museum project was the brainchild of The "Renaissance" Cultural and Intellectual Foundation, a foundation that exists to preserve cultural history, which stepped in to preserve Saroyan's home with objects of historical meaning provided by private collections pertaining to Mr. Saroyan's award-winning career (he won the Oscar for screenwriting the 1944 film "The Human Comedy").
This event had two celebrations, one which included a ribbon cutting ceremony and plaque unveiling at The Saroyan House Museum located at 2729 W. Griffith Way in Fresno, CA. This also included a proclamation, by the City of Fresno, naming August 31stas William Saroyan Day. A select group of journalists and invited guests were then given an exclusive private tour of the museum (which will open to the public in mid-September through appointment only on their website www.saroyanhouse.com).
This tour included a viewing of the high-tech elements of the museum which included interactive videos, Virtual Reality, viewing of images of Saroyan's paintings, books covers, and photos. The museum, most impressively, also has an interactive hologram of William Saroyan, standing by his typewriter. Discussing human existence.
The 2nd portion of the celebration, which was open to the general public, was held at the Satellite Student Union and California State University, Fresno. In addition to esteemed speakers and musical performances (which included the first-ever performances of two of Saroyan's songs) guests were treated to the world-premiere public screening of the William Saroyan documentary film "Saroyan House" by Film Factory LLC. Several Appreciation Awards were given out to thank individuals who played a key role in the creation of the William Saroyan House Museum and they included Mr. Charles Janigian, Professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian, Dr. Dikran Kouymijan, Mr. Aram Ohanyan and the Boghos Boghossian Family. During the ceremony, it was announced the launch of a William Saroyan VR museum, allowing visitors from around the world to virtually visit the William Saroyan Virtual Museum, giving them an in-depth look at the writer and his craft.
Saroyan, who is a local hero in Fresno, and considered one the most prolific writers of his era, was most known for being a novelist, playwright, and short-story writer. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940, and he won the 1944 Screenwriting Oscar for his story that was made in the movie "The Human Comedy". During his career, he wrote thousands of pieces, most of which remain unpublished.
But he was an accomplished artist in many other genres. The popular 1951 song "Come On-A My House", which launched the singing career of Rosemary Clooney; was co-written by William Saroyan and his cousin Ross Baghdassarian. He also created thousands of drawings, sketches, and paintings throughout his lifetime.
The Foundation has recreated the ambiance of Saroyan's house so that each visitor can experience a bit of Saroyan's personal lifestyle. After the reconstruction, the house museum will become a center for Saroyan studies. The foundation plans to collect books, photos, videos, paintings, and keepsakes that reflect Saroyan's character, to display in the museum. But from this collection, they will also build a digital archive that will be readily available to the public.
Entry to the museum will be by appointment and free of charge.
Photo credit Below: Top Hand Media