International Fund Steps in To Save Historical Landmark of One of Hollywood’s Greatest Icons
FRESNO—Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning Armenia-American novelist, screenwriter, and songwriter William Saroyan is having his Fresno home turned into an interactive museum with a Grand Opening Celebration on August 31. This historic event is expected to be covered by multiple media outlets with special guests in attendance.
The “Renaissance” Cultural and Intellectual Foundation, a foundation that exists to preserve cultural history, stepped in to preserve his 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”).
Saroyan’s legacy still stands today and inspires countless modern adaptations of his works and admiration from other artists. Johnny Depp is quoted as saying he lives his life by the mantra “Place in matter and in flesh, the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption” from Saroyan’s book “The Time of Your Life.” Actress Meg Ryan recently directed and starred in a film adaptation of Saroyan’s work titled Ithaca based on “The Human Comedy,” with Saroyan receiving a writer’s credit on the film.
The Grand Opening Event will consist of two segments. The first will be a press-only event at the Opening Ceremony of The William Saroyan Museum located at the House Museum where a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the plaque will take place followed by the first tour to members of the press and then a private reception. The second portion of the event will be open to the public and will take place at the Satellite Student Union on the campus of CSU Fresno starting at 6:30 pm where several speakers and performers, including The Renaissance Foundation’s Arthur Janibekyan, will deliver remarks. Guests will then be invited to view the William Saroyan Pictures/Graphics Exhibition and “Saroyan House” Documentary film followed by a reception.
The “Renaissance” Cultural and Intellectual Foundation was founded in Armenia by Artur Janibekyan in 2013. The mission of the Foundation is to preserve and develop Armenia’s cultural and intellectual heritage, with the vision to make it well-known both in Armenia and abroad. The Foundation has implemented numerous cultural preservation projects in Armenia.
In 2015, the Foundation was made aware of a looming situation regarding the final home of the great American-Armenian writer, William Saroyan. Although listed on the historic registry of Fresno, the home was in danger of being lost forever. The Foundation quickly stepped in and purchased the house out of foreclosure. In the beginning, they were not entirely sure what they would do with the house, their primary goal was to save it.
After securing the house, the Foundation implemented a plan to convert the house into a museum. Saroyan lived in Fresno at 2729 W. Griffith Way for the last 17 years of his life and had produced numerous works during that time.
Saroyan was 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 Oscar award for his story 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 will recreate 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.
The museum itself will be an interactive experience, with videos, digital effects, and a hologram room where William Saroyan himself will lead guests on a tour of his living room and talk to the visitors. On the same day, the Foundation will announce 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.
The Foundation plans to open the museum on August 31st, the 110thanniversary of Williams Saroyan’s birth. The grand opening event will be open to the public and held on the campus of California State University of Fresno. A documentary, musical performances of songs written by Saroyan, a recitation of his writings, and remarks by the Founder and board members of the Foundation will be part of the event. Two of the songs will be a debut performance, having never been played for the public.
Entry to the museum will be by reservation, and free of charge.