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The opening of the exhibition “Greek Architects of Istanbul in the Period of Westernization” took place on Monday, November 22, 2010. The exhibition was organized by the Zographion High School Alumni Association in collaboration with the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency. Sponsored by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, it was very positively received by the visitors thronging the hall of the Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar Üniversitesi (Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University).
The event was honoured by the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Şekib Avdagic, the President of the Cultural Capital 2010 Agency, Vasileios Bornovas, the General Consul of Greece, Greek MP Grigoris Psarianos, the directors of the Topkapi and Sakıp Sabancı museums, academics and architecture professionals, Greek and Turkish artists and organizations, and members of the Greek community of Istanbul and its various societies. Present also were many visitors from Athens and Thessaloniki who visited Istanbul for the opening. Congratulatory telegrams on the occasion were sent by Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Gunay, Greek Minister of Culture and Tourism Pavlos Geroulanos, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bağış, Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, as well as the mayors of Şişli and Sariyer.
In his inaugural speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch praised the role of the exhibition organizers, and emphasized that this particular undertaking was important “so that all the residents of Istanbul could know and appreciate an important element of the identity of the Queen of Cities and recognize the contribution of the architects of the local Greek minority to the development of Istanbul, which has always been the beautiful, resplendent, and official showcase of the State.” He thanked the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation for its important sponsorship of the programme, and expressed the hope that the exhibition, which is due to travel to other cities in Greece and Europe, “would have the success it deserves. We believe it constitutes one more bridge of friendship between the two nations and Countries.” For his part, the president of the Cultural Capital 2010 Agency, Şekib Avdagic, pointed out that this exhibition contributed to demonstrating the multicultural profile of the city, casting light upon practically unknown aspects of its long history. Finally, he underlined that this exhibition is among the events that provide the best possible explanation as to why Istanbul was honoured with the designation of European Capital of Culture. Lakis Vingas, the programme administrator, offered special thanks to all those who contributed to this project and emphasized that the realization of this particular exhibition is a response to history’s call to the Greek Istanbul community, which has indelibly left its mark upon this land, to carry on the legacy.
More than 500 visitors toured the exhibition area of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and were amazed by the period’s large number of Greek architects and the important buildings they bequeathed throughout Istanbul, thus decisively developing the city’s European profile. The university itself, when it was still operating under the name Sanayi-i Nefise (School of Industrial Arts), was the alma mater of most of the architects included in the exhibition. The works on display, which were gathered and presented to the public for the first time, aroused general admiration. The accompanying exhibition catalogue with its academic approach to the subject was also very well received and sold out during the opening.
The exhibition will remain at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University until December 3, 2010. Afterwards, the exhibition location will move to the Greek Consulate’s Sismaloglio Megaro on Istıklal Caddesi (the former Grande Rue de Pera) from December 17, 2010 until January 16, 2011. It will later travel to Thessaloniki and Athens, where strong interest has already been generated.
From the right, exhibition programme administrator Lakis Vingas, Istanbul 2010 Agency President Şekib Avdagic, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Vangelis Chronis, Latsis Group, General Manager – Greece, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Rector Professor Rahmi Aksungur, and exhibition committee member Savvas Tsilenis.