ICOM and ICOMOS Joint Statement on Hagia Sophia

Joint Statement
on Hagia Sophia

Along with the international community, ICOMand ICOMOS jointly express their concerns regard-ing the decision by the Turkish authorities to reverse the status of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque, and the repercussions this may have in terms of the conservation and accessibility of this outstanding artistic and cultural heritage.
Since 1934,Hagia Sophia has been a museum, a decisionmotivated as a symbolic gesture to openly present to the public the spectacularmulti-layered cultural richness of thismonument. The Turkish people and tourists from all over the world have since then had the opportunity to visit this architec-turalmasterpiece and contemplate its stunning works of art of the Byzantine andOttomanperiods, an intercultural exchange inscribed in themuseum’sDNA.
ICOMhas been advocating for decades the role ofmu-seums as meeting places open to all people without dis-tinction, a creative space where people can engage with cultural heritage in all its dimensions, connecting past, present and future.
Alberto Garlandini, ICOMPresident

ICOMOS hopes that the artistic works representing
all the cultural layers of Hagia Sophia will continue to be
accessible side by side, as has been possible since the
creation of themuseum in 1934.
Toshiyuki Kono, ICOMOS President

The importance of this shared heritagewas strengthenedwith the inscription of the monument on the UNESCO WorldHeritage List in 1985, and the commitments this entails for Turkey as a State Party. It recognizesHagia Sophia’s role as an irreplaceable testimony of a multicultural past and the continuing dialogue between cultures – a monument that has stood the test of time for the benefit of the present and future generations. ICOM and ICOMOS share the opinion that conservation and accessibility must continue to be at the heart of the management of Hagia Sophia, regardless of its future function and jurisdiction.
While functioning as a museum,Hagia Sophia also served as a place for education and research, benefiting from the exchange of knowledge between curators, scholars and specialists. The continu-ous discussions gathering Turkish and international experts certainly enrich the understanding of the monument and support the conservation efforts to mitigate the effects of time on the structure. The discussions among expertsmust also continue especially to ensure the future care of Hagia So-phia in every aspect of its preservation.
ICOMexpresses its hope that Hagia Sofia’s function as a museum will continue, emphasizing the importance of its preservation and continued accessibility to the pub-lic and experts.
Peter Keller, ICOMDirector General

The Hagia Sophia’s presentation, intact with all its layers,
should not be obstructed, so thismagnificentmonument of
world architectural history can keep inspiring us all as a
symbol of interfaith brotherhood andworld peace.

For these reasons, ICOM and ICOMOS, and their respective committees which have already ex-pressed their sadness to see this symbolicmonument losing itsmuseumstatus, concurwith thestate-mentsmade by partner organisations such asUNESCO aswell as the academic community.

Paris, 15 July 2020.



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