The permanent exhibition brings together history on both a small and large scale around the genocide and exile of the Armenians, with displays which are both touching and immersive. During the extension work, this section was renovated.
An emotive journey
The permanent exhibition features more than 2000 documents from the archives. From the origins of the Armenian people to their exile from their historical homeland, the layout of the exhibition guides visitors from the original Armenian homeland all the way to the Rhone valley.
Using this history as a basis, thematic focuses integrated into each stage of the journey provide the exhibition with a universal approach, addressing the notion of genocide, the phenomena of exile and integration as well as questions relating to collective memory and identity.
Several sequences to explore
> No return – Visitors follow in the footsteps of an Armenian family who arrived in Valence after the genocide and who were forbidden from returning to the Ottoman Empire. A little further along, they will discover some “exile objects” which are emblematic of Armenian identity. Other great diasporas are also alluded to.
> Origins – Where do Armenians come from, what is their history? In this sequence, visitors will explore the changes in Armenian territories from antiquity up to the 1915 genocide.
> Genocide and exile – Then there is silence, the desert: that of those who disappeared and those who were deported. The documentary Mémoires blessées (in French), directed by Jean-Michel Vennemani, provides testimonies and documents from the archives. The question is widened to include other 20th-century genocides.
> Why France? – What was the context of the mass entry into France by Armenians in the 1920s? Through the role played by the League of Nations and Fridtjöf Nansen, statelessness and the story of refugees in the 20th century are addressed in this section.
> Migration routes – Exiled Armenians arrived in Marseille and were led by work contracts and individual or family initiative up the Rhone valley before settling in the Drôme department. This itinerary is reconstructed thanks notably to documents which were conserved by an Armenian family.
> Valence – Many Armenians arrived in Valence and its surrounding area in the 1920s. How did they manage, step by step, to find work, to find homes and to build a new life outside of their homeland? This question is addressed in the context of other migrant populations in the Drôme department and across France.