We, in the name of museology profession, are concerned about the decision of the State Council numbered 2020/2595[i], which made the museum status of Hagia Sophia Museum annulled, and about the Presidential Decree numbered 2729[ii], which handed over the management thereof to the Presidency of Religious Affairs, and we wish to open new museums that will introduce our culture to the people of this geography and to the world, not -on the contrary- to close museums in our country, which is the cradle of ancient civilizations.
Decisions of the international organizations, to which our country is a party, specify the attitude of our profession in this frame. With its recommendation titled “Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections”[iii], United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), aimed to support the use of the potential of museums that strengthens the social cohesion among local communities.
Articles 1 and 6 of the Code of Ethics for Museums[iv], which was published in 2017 by the International Council of Museums, laid emphasis on showing respect to the societies served.
Article 1 establishes the principle of exhibiting the cultural remains and materials of sacred significance with a great tact and respect for the common feelings of human dignity held by all peoples, considering the beliefs of those communities.
Article 6 specifies that exhibition of the collections of communities in the museums requires respect for the human dignity, traditions and cultures, and such collections should be protected and exhibited in order to promote human well-being, social development, tolerance and respect and to advocate pluralist narration in terms of community, language and religion.
Museum qualification of Hagia Sophia strengthens the perception of its multi-layered characteristic, which it gained in time. Preservation of museum function of Hagia Sophia, which brings different cultures together and is accepted as a World heritage, means to protect its cross-communities universal value. Hagia Sophia Museum is the most visited museum of Istanbul. In this respect, it creates an added value in terms of economics with its museum function. Our colleagues in charge have been working for years to protect and exhibit this monumental museum in the best manner, which represents Turkey in the whole World.
We should remind our community that: The museum is inclusive, not exclusivist. It is universal, it addresses all of the peoples. It is egalitarian; it invites all humanity without discriminating race, language, religion. It is protective, it preserves each one of its elements with the same care. It’s narrator; it transfers the stories of the objects from generation to generation. It’s researcher; it produces knowledge and enhances our knowledge about universal culture by digging and scratching from the past. It’s the neutral protectors of cultural heritage, which includes the sacred matters of the community, and it carries out this duty in the name of and for the community. It undertakes these duties not despite of the community, but with the support thereof. If we want to preserve and sustain our history and culture, we have to protect, sustain and increase our museums.
Respectfully announced to the public.
Association of Museum Professionals