WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Armenian Museum of America recently announced that Dr. Helen C. Evans, Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art Emerita at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has joined its leadership team as an Academic Advisor, while Berj Najarian, New England Patriots Director of Football and Head Coach Administration, has joined as a Trustee.
“We are excited about the expansion of our Trustees and our group of esteemed Academic Advisors,” said Michele Kolligian, President of the Armenian Museum’s Board of Trustees. “While museums have been temporarily closed during the pandemic, we hope the community has taken notice of the expansion of our online programs, and we are excited about our eventual re-opening later this year.”
Berj Najarian is in his 27th season in the National Football League and 22nd season with the New England Patriots, serving as the point person for the day-to-day operations of the team. Berj acts as a liaison across football departments such as team travel, equipment, training, and player engagement as well as non-football departments such as marketing, media relations, and Gillette Stadium operations. Berj manages several elements of head coach Bill Belichick’s off-field agenda including football operations, player and staff communication, and scheduling. Berj has been part of all six Patriots Super Bowl championship teams.
Entering the NFL in 1995, Berj was a public relations assistant with the New York Jets for five seasons following an internship with the New York Knicks. Berj attended Boston University, and he is a Board member and officer of the Bill Belichick Foundation. Berj was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Manhasset, NY.
While Berj tends to work behind-the-scenes with the Patriots, he has taken several opportunities to publicize issues related to his ancestral homeland including providing an Armenian flag pin to Coach Belichick to wear at the White House after winning the Superbowl. Most recently he joined the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign by wearing a custom designed pair of cleats to raise awareness about the war in Artsakh. The cleats were highlighted by the top players on Instagram, and they set an NFL auction record in support of Armenia Fund’s humanitarian programs. The winning bid went to the Museum’s President, Michele Kolligian, and Bob Khederian, Vice President, who announced they were donating the Artsakh cleats to the Museum. The cleats will be presented to the Museum for display in the upcoming months.
Dr. Helen C. Evans curated The MET’s renowned “Armenia!” exhibition in 2018. She co-curated “Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts” at the Morgan Library and Museum in 1994 and included Armenian works in her award-winning exhibitions at The MET on “The Glory of Byzantium” in 1997 and “Byzantium: Faith and Power” in 2004. Her installation of The MET’s Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Byzantine Art displays Armenian works as exemplars of an important East Christian culture on the Empire’s border. The AGBU recently announced a Helen C. Evans Scholarship in her honor, which will fund students studying Armenian art, art history, and the early church.
Dr. Evans has lectured and published widely and taught Armenian art and culture as the Nikit and Elenora Ordjanian Visiting Professor of Armenian Studies at Columbia University. Armenia’s President recognized her efforts with the Republic of Armenia’s Order of Friendship. His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, presented her with the Order of Saint Sahak and Saint Mesrop, and the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America recognized her with its Friend of the Armenians Award, while the Prelacy of the Great House of Cilicia presented her with the Mesrop Mastots, Queen Zabel, and Spirit of Armenia awards.
Dr. Evans was elected a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 2020. She is chairwoman of the board of the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture and former President of the International Center for Medieval Art and the Association of Art Museum Curators. Dr. Evans received her BA with Honors from Newcomb College of Tulane University and her MA and PhD from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Her dissertation was on Manuscript Illuminations at the Armenian Patriarchate in Hromkla and the West.
“The addition of Dr. Evans and Berj to our leadership group could not have come at a more important time for the Armenian Museum,” noted Kolligian. “We are witnessing ethnic cleaning in Artsakh today, so this is a time to reinvest and expand efforts to preserve and promote our heritage. We are confident that the growth of the Museum’s leadership will introduce new ideas for revitalizing programs and exhibitions for our members and the community at-large.”