Vol. 15 No. 3 (2018): Is sustainability out, resilience in?

Scraping the layers: Tahsin Öz and his stylistic restorations in Topkapı Palace Museum

Burcu Selcen Coşkun
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey

Published 2018-11-19


  • Tahsin Öz,
  • Topkapı Palace Museum,
  • Viollet le-Duc,
  • Restoration

How to Cite

Selcen Coşkun, B. (2018). Scraping the layers: Tahsin Öz and his stylistic restorations in Topkapı Palace Museum. A|Z ITU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, 15(3), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.5505/itujfa.2018.41033


State-led heritage conservation was first experienced in Tanzimat Period in Ottoman Empire. State continued being the major custodian of cultural heritage throughout the 1950s. The general approach towards conservation of these early years was the maintenance of symbolic buildings that had been regarded as monuments. Yet, we can speak of a selective ideal of determining which monument to conserve and which period to exhibit. Starting his career as the chief accountant and later the deputy director of the Museum of Antiquities, Tahsin Öz was among the people who dominated the field of heritage preservation in the early Republican years. He acted throughout his life as an influential figure in decision making processes of heritage conservation. As one of the most important roles in his career, Öz was appointed as the director of Topkapı Palace Museum, which became a museum in 1924 with the approval of the young parliament. Although much neglected and in need of urgent repair, the buildings of the palace were still witnesses of the 19th century Ottoman taste. Until 1953, he was responsible and in charge of some rather ambitious restorations, which favored to erase the traces of one period and return back to a specific one. This paper aims to introduce the controversial approaches of Öz in Topkapi Palace Museum with an overview of what he realized and wrote, and focus simultaneously on the atmosphere of preservation in Turkey until 1950s with voices of intellectuals and professionals supporting or disagreeing his decisions.