The Istanbul Research Institute is currently exhibiting, “Journey to the Center of the East, 1850-1950: 100 Years of Travelers in Istanbul from the Pierre de Gigord Collection,” until October 17.
The exhibition tells the tale of Istanbul-centered travels of curious Westerners, who ventured out to the East from the 18th century onwards to quench their thirst for knowledge and discovery in their respective areas of interest.
Based on the changing profile of travelers in the East with time, it is possible to build a broad spectrum of people extending from missionaries, scientists, and merchants to politicians, adventurers, and artists. A vast variety of professionals, including geographers, archeologists, linguists, architects, botanist, and men of the cloth, traveled across the East’s geography from late 18th century until the mid-19th century.
After the Crimean War, the expedition-oriented research language, which maintained until the 1850s, was replaced by a travelogue language that devoured Eastern culture. By then, those who undertook travel were no longer the information-gathering and interpreting travelers that scientific institutions sent to the East, but a type of tourist that rapidly pillaged this mysterious geography over images their predecessors created.
Based on materials selected from the vast collection of Pierre de Gigord, one of the leading collectors of Ottoman-era photographs and ephemera in the world, “Journey to the Center of the East” sheds light upon early years of mass tourism that replaced individual journeys of discovery and the transformation of travel culture.