A City Transformed: Aga Khan Museum’s Visual History of Istanbul Adnan M. on The Arts Guild com

Istanbul-then and now

It’s been a hectic few months, and am glad to be returning to the writing table to reminisce about a fabulous, chilly February evening spent at the A City Transformed exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum. Photography has, for many generations, been one of the most powerful mediums of communication.


The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Filiz Çakır Phillip, Curator of the Aga Khan Museum, who gave all of us an in-depth history on the various pieces that were on display. She co-curated the exhibit with Bahattin Öztuncay, a leading scholar in Ottoman photography. His detailed studies about 19th century photography in the Ottoman capital and well-documented knowledge of people such as Ottoman Greek photographer Vassilaki Kargopoulo were integral to bringing this exhibition to life.

What you will find in the upper gallery of the Aga Khan Museum is no ordinary exhibit. It has taken the elements of Then and Now and really created a space in which you can see the contrasting history of Istanbul. To capture the historical elements of the city, the exhibition features 68 different historical pieces – including photographs, albums, and panoramas – from the private collection of noted Turkish collector, art philanthropist and businessman Ömer Mehmet Koç. These pieces feature the breath and diversity of photography from the period of the Ottoman empire, not only presenting different visual exhibits of life in Istanbul, but also the different photographic processes used to create the final product. From collodion prints to salted paper prints, the exhibit does feature a variety of photographic processes. Plus, the collection features a variety of Istanbul’s notable imagery, including historical locations such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque taken by James Robertson in 1854 (see above).

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