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The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the year 2008
From: Bircan Ünver, The Light Millennium, Inc., Public Benefit Organization
Date: March 9, 2008, New York

Date: 22 January - 12 April 2005
Address: Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly


This exhibition explores the art and culture of the Turks from Inner Asia to the Bosphorus over a thousand year period between 600 and 1600 AD. Their journey incorporated many different centers of power and artistic traditions.

Introduction from the Royal Academy of Arts’ exhibition brochure:

Join this spectacular journey following the rise of the Turks over a thousand years, as they travel westwards from central Asia through the central Islamic lands and enter Europe, leaving in their wake an extraordinary visual legacy. Drawn from the celebrated collections of the Topkapi, Saray, Istanbul, and loans from many other museums, a rich array of over 50 textiles, carpets, manuscripts, calligraphy, woodwork, metalwork and ceramics will be on display, showing the staggering artistic diversity and cultural interactions that gave rise to fascinating aesthetic and cultural riches.


The Royal Academy presents a landmark exhibition exploring the artistic and cultural riches of the Turks from Inner Asia to Istanbul and beyond. Spanning a period of a thousand years, from 600 to 1600 AD, a rich array of textiles, manuscripts, calligraphy, woodwork, metalwork and ceramics shows the artistic diversity that culminated in the splendors of the Ottoman Empire. The exhibition brings together over 350 outstanding works, drawn primarily from the celebrated collections of the Topkapı Saray Museum and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art of Istanbul, including numerous works which have never been exhibited outside Turkey.

Taking visitors on an extraordinary journey, this is the first ever exhibition to explore the development of Turkic cultures, as they forged their way westwards across the eastern borders of Central Asia to the Balkans of Eastern Europe. Throughout their nomadic migrations each group of Turkic peoples appropriated and assimilated the new cultures they encountered. Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600 exposes and explores the cultural interactions that gave rise to the great richness of artistic expression of this period.

The exhibition presents a wealth of material from a momentous thousand-year period. It introduces the art of the Uyghurs, a nomadic tribal group who first rose to prominence in the 7th century at the crossroads of the Silk Route in Central Asia and goes on to explore three key dynasties: the Seljuks (c.1040-1194), the Timurids (c.1370-1506), and an examination of the Ottomans between c.1453 and 1600. With a combination of charismatic leaders, strategic brilliance and military power these groups were able to conquer vast geographic areas and inspire artists to reach new heights of creativity.

The exhibition brings together the extraordinary drawings by Muhammad Siyah Qalam – ‘Muhammad of the Black Pen’ – one of the greatest treasures of the Topkapı Saray Library, never before exhibited outside Turkey. Among the numerous masterpieces on display is an impressive 13th century Seljuk carpet from the mosque built for Sultan Alaeddin Keykûbad in Konya, and a unique Timurid architectural scroll depicting geometric patterns, measuring 30 metres in length. A wealth of Ottoman treasures includes an armoured kaftan of Mehmed ‘The Conqueror’, mosaic wooden doors designed by the great architect Sinan for the harem (the private living quarters of the Sultan) and the ceremonial sword of Suleyman ‘The Magnificent’. In addition, the opening gallery contains a visual introduction, highlighting architectural sites specific to each cultural group.

* * * * *


Date: October 6 2004 - January 16, 2005 - Brussels, Belgium

An Introduction from the BO-ZAR EX-PO brochure:

Women take you on a 9000-year journey through the peoples and cultures that have defined the history of Anatolia. A fabulous and sensually stimulating exhibition, with more than 350 masterpieces from Topkapi and Several European and Turkish museums.

“Turkish identity has no need to choose between Europe and Asia, between secularization and Islam, or between East and West. We are ourselves, and that is already complex enough.” Orhan Pamuk.

Leading museums in Turkey and Western Europe are joining forces for a sensually stimulating exhibition. The collection of the Topkapi Palace alone – home of the Ottoman sultans—appeals hugely to the imagination. Unique pieces from the Louvre, the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna, the museums of Berlin and the most important Turkish museums complete the picture. Together all these art treasures make Mothers, goddesses and sultanas a must for those who wish to immerse themselves in the origins of both eastern and western civilizations. The visitor will also gradually increase his acquaintance with contemporary Turkey.

We encounter the peoples who have left their traces in Anatolia in the course of 9000 years. The journey takes us through such renowned cultures as the Hittites, Greek and Roman antiquity, Byzantium and the Ottomans. In each of the four main cultural periods women come forward to be our guide. The Hittite Queen Putukhipa for example shows us her daily activities, the last empress of Byzantium evokes the part she played at court and Hurrem Sultan introduces us to Suleiman the Magnificent.

From prehistoric mother-goddess to empress of Byzantium, from slave to sultana, from priestess to maids: each in their own way influenced the destiny of their native country and helped define our contemporary view of ‘woman’ and femininity.

* * * * *

ANATOLIAN CIVILIZATIONS (Inspired by, “Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries” (1990-91) exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum.)

Anatolia is one of the rare places in the world, which has been inhabited ever since the first man was seen on the earth. Since the Stone Age, there had lived many civilizations such as Hatti, Hittite, Urartu, Phrygian, Lydian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Seljukian in Anatolia.

This exhibition aims to reflect those periods of the Anatolian Civilizations with their richest content. For this purpose, art pieces from the “Anatolian Civilization Exhibition” held in Istanbul in 1983 & 84 and from various museums of the world will be gathered.

In order to promote the exhibition, an extensive exhibition catalogue will be published, documentaries will be prepared and presented along with conferences and seminars. Seminars and conferences will be organized in collaboration with various universities at the venues where the exhibition will be held.

This is a project of which I have been dreaming since the “Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries” exhibition held in Metropolitan Museum in 1990. I have been searching for the possibilities of realizing this exhibition personally and afterward on behalf of the Light Millennium organization since then.

* * * * *


Project by: Bircan Ünver

This exhibition will be composed of a wide ranged selection of the Modern Turkish Arts from 1900 up to date. The exhibition will focus on reflections and implications of living in an Islamic culture and architecture as well as implications of cultural elements from the Ottoman period. The content of the exhibition will be of art pieces between 300 or 330 including oil, acrylic paintings, sculptures and ceramics. The exhibition will demonstrate sophisticated examples from eminent Turkish art figures such as Osman Hamdi, Hoca Ali Riza, Nazmi Ziya, Ibrahim Calli, Cihat Burak, Erol Akyavas, Adnan Coker, Burhan Dogancay, Komet, Ergin Inan, Balkan Naci Islimyeli, Ipek Aksugur Duben, Ismet Dogan, Murat Morova and many others…

This exhibition, while illustrating the Modern Turkish Arts and its very distinguished place in the Middle East and within the Islamic countries, will serve as an extension of the ANATOLIAN CIVILIZATIONS exhibition, which will also be a unique connection with the Modern Turkey as well as her modern reflections…

-- For the Letter to Mr. Philip de MONTEBELLO, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
-- For Word file of the "Exhibition Proposals."

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#13th Issue, New Year-2004.
Publishing Date: December 2003, New York
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