From Istanbul to Byzantium | Paths to Rediscovery, 1800–1955–
Organisation: Pera Museum
In Istanbul’s lively and multicultural environment, a common passion arose in intellectual circles among people from diverse backgrounds, origins, and countries who had come together in newly established cultural and academic institutions focusing on Byzantium. Over the course of transformations in the landscape set in motion by efforts to modernize the city, steps were taken to move away from the simplistic orientalist view of Constantinople as a fantastically picturesque city by adopting a rational approach to antiquities newly discovered or recently rediscovered. Those involved in documenting Istanbul’s Byzantine past not only blazed a trail in the conservation of the city’s cultural heritage but also developed scientific methods of study in their search for certainty.
These developments—leading toward a scientific approach to Byzantium and insufficiently studied until now—stand at the center of From Istanbul to Byzantium. They are documented through an impressive array of archival holdings, in particular the Byzantine collections of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums. The juncture of circumstances and activities that triggered interest in Istanbul’s Byzantine past is contextualized by bringing together Byzantine artifacts along with related books, prints, maps, photographs, documents and paintings from the collections of Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Istanbul University Rare Books Library, Ömer Koç, Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul, Galeri Nev İstanbul, Serap Kayhan, Dr. Safder Tarim, Büke Uras, and Birmingham East Mediterranean Archive, EPHE, Fonds Gabriel Millet, Collège de France, Fonds Thomas Whittemore, Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, as well as a 3D animation by A. Tayfun Öner that help animate the initial stages of the modern discovery of Byzantium and the path toward its heritage becoming an area of academic study, conservation, and widespread interest.