Armenian cross on display for first time in US

A monumental stone cross, known as a khatchkar (right), on long-term loan from the State History Museum of Armenia, has been installed in the Metropolitan Museum’s Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries for Byzantine art, the first time such an object has been on display in a US museum. The cross is part of the reinstallation of the Byzantine collection following the renovation of the medieval galleries, parts of which are currently closed. When the galleries fully reopen in the autumn, the cross will remain on permanent display with a rotating selection of other Armenian artefacts and manuscripts, some from the museum’s own collection, along with new acquisitions on view in adjacent cases. Dating from the 12th century, the 2,000-pound, nearly eight-foot-tall block of basalt features inter­lacing carvings that form a frame around the cross, above symbols of the four evangelists. Although Armenia is one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as its state religion, evangelical symbols are rare in medieval khatch­kars, which were commonly erected as gravestones or to mark important historical events. The loan was organised by the Metropolitan Museum’s curator of Byzantine art, Helen Evans, who travelled to Armenia in December to select the cross, under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, the State History Museum and the Office of the President of Armenia

Shahan Stepanian

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