Rep. Schiff Urges Obama to Allow Orphan Rug Display

Representative Adam Schiff

WASHINGTON—On Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) once again called on the Obama Administration to allow exhibition of the “Armenian Orphan Rug” at the Smithsonian Museum. The rug, woven by orphans of the Armenian Genocide in 1920, was presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 as thanks for U.S. assistance during the genocide. The rug – which has been in storage at the White House for decades – was supposed to be released for exhibition in a Smithsonian event for the launch of Hagop Martin Deranian’s new book President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled when the White House refused to release the rug for display.

“The decision by the Administration to block display of the Armenian Genocide rug is as inexplicable, as it is hurtful to the Armenian community,” Schiff explained. “The rug is not only a symbol of the resilience of the Armenian people through their darkest days, it also serves as a tangible expression of the inherent truth that not only were 1.5 million people killed in the first genocide of the 20th Century, but that the American government was a central player in efforts to call attention to the plight of the Armenian people and provide relief to survivors.”

The Administration has been reluctant to call the Armenian Genocide what it was, a genocide, and this latest decision to keep the rug out of the Smithsonian comes without explanation. Schiff continued, “The rug deserves to be on display and the millions affected by the genocide deserve the chance to see it – it’s my hope that the Administration will decide to allow the rug, a symbol worthy of the Smithsonian, to be released.”

Schiff and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) sent a letter, along with 31 other Members, to President Obama urging him to allow exhibition of the rug. The full letter is below:


Dear Mr. President:

As Members of Congress who represent America’s Armenian community, we write to inquire about numerous reports that the White House has blocked the exhibition of an important Armenian Genocide-era icon of shared American and Armenian history scheduled to open December 16th; the “Armenian Orphan Rug.”

This historic rug was hand-woven by orphans of the Armenian Genocide in an American-sponsored orphanage run by an U.S. charity created by an act of Congress. The rug, which has over 4,000,000 hand-tied knots, was presented, in 1925 to President Calvin Coolidge as a symbol of gratitude for American aid and generosity.  President Coolidge noted that, “The rug has a place of honor in the White House where it will be a daily symbol of goodwill on earth.”  The presentation of the rug to President Coolidge enjoyed wide publicity including in The New York Times and resulted in millions of dollars being raised for humanitarian assistance.

The Armenian Orphan Rug is a piece of American history and it belongs to the American people. For over a decade, Armenian American organizations have sought the public display of the rug and have requested the White House and the State Department grant their request on numerous occasions.  Unfortunately, Armenian Americans have yet to have their requests granted.

We urge you to release this American treasure for exhibition. We look forward to working with you to ensure this important piece of American and Armenian history is publicly displayed and we eagerly await your response.

Members of Congress


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  1. Karnig said:


    I’ve heard so many over the years while growing up,
    One of several stuck with me appropriately enough.
    Here goes: the donkey will fall into a pit only one time along the path, the next time it will veer around when it comes to the area.
    What does that make those of us who voted for him in the first place.

  2. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    Adam Schiff is a human he appreciates every honest work done.

    Who doesn’t appreciate, respect
    The tiny hands of the orphans
    Who lost every hope in their life
    but still worked hard day and night
    to weave that precious carpet (so called rug)
    Thee is criminal…wants to see the piece is burned…
    Like who doesn’t want to see the portrait of Mona Liza
    on the wall of the Parisian Louvre
    But wishes to get rot and disappear,
    Like the skulls of unlucky Armenians in the desert of Der-Zor…
    Still uncunned…tolerating the rays of the burning sun…!!!

  3. GeorgeMardig said:

    Armenians should take this opportunity to explain the world for what this rug stands for, that Turkey in the past as well today is a blood thursty Genocide perpetrator nation, its cowardliness stops him to come in terms with it’s past and recognize and compensate the Armenian people. Armenians should start an IMAGE DESTRUCTION CAPAIGN which can result where it hurts most, it’s ecenomy, there is NO money on earth that can repair once the image of Turkey is destroyed, and 10 Million Armenians can make that happen