Istanbul through the centuries at Aga Khan Museum

Toronto Museum collaborates with Turkish private collector to display works of historic city

Aga Khan Museum’s new exhibit, A City Transformed: Images of Istanbul Then and Now, promises a time-travelling adventure to the heart of the old Ottoman Empire — Istanbul.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Hippodrome James Robertson, 1854 Ömer M. Koç, Private Collection
Photo of Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Hippodrome by James Robertson, 1854, from the private collection of Ömer M. Koç.

The internationally renowned museum of Islamic history recently acquired rare and historic pieces that show portraits of Constantinople, which was once the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The images are juxtaposed with ones of 19th-century Istanbul.

According to curator Dr. Filiz Cakir Phillip, the exhibit was created in collaboration with the private gallery of Turkey’s wealthiest businessman, Omer M. Koc, and has been the subject of talks since the early days of the Aga Khan Museum.

In a city as multicultural as Toronto, Phillip believes it is important for the Aga Khan Museum to signify Istanbul as it represents Islamic history and culture so intricately.

“Istanbul is important to us because it is a city where the East intertwines with the West. It is the Muslim gateway to the Western world,” Phillip said.

The exhibition is showing at the museum until June 26.