Thomas Whittemore (January 2, 1871 – June 8, 1950) was an American scholar and archaeologist who founded the Byzantine Institute of America. His close personal relationship with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder and the first president of the Turkish Republic, enabled him to gain permission from the Turkish government to start the preservation of the Hagia Sophia mosaics in 1931.
Thomas Whittemore was born in the Cambridgeport neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 2, 1871. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Tufts College in 1894. He taught English Composition at Tufts for a year and then studied at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He also taught courses in the fine arts at New York University and Columbia University.
From 1911 until his death Whittemore served as American representative on the Egyptian Exploration Fund.
Whittemore worked in various capacities to provide relief to Russian refugees during World War I and following the Russian Revolution. He spent 8 months in Russia in 1915-16 and reported on conditions there when he returned to New York to organized shipments of supplies. He was a member of the U.S.-based Russian Relief Commission and a committee for war relief organized by Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaovna.
In 1930, Whittemore founded the Byzantine Institute of America, whose mission was to "conserve, restore, study, and document" the monuments and artworks of the Byzantine world.In 1931, Whittemore traveled with the Institute to Istanbul with the permission of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to oversee the removal of plaster covering the Byzantine mosaics in Hagia Sophia. Of the radical and sudden transformation of Hagia Sophia from an active mosque to a secular museum in 1931 he wrote: "Santa Sophia was a mosque the day that I talked to him. The next morning, when I went to the mosque, there was a sign on the door written in Ataturk's own hand. It said: 'The museum is closed for repairs'"
In 1934, Harvard University appointed him keeper of Byzantine coins and seals at the Fogg Art Museum for a year.He also accepted a presidential appointment to represent the United States at the Byzantine Conference in Sofia in September of that year.
His work was widely reported in the United States. In 1942, the New York Times noted his return to Istanbul for his "ninth year in uncovering Byzantine mosaics in the St. Sophia Museum".
Beginning in 1948, he sponsored a program for the restoration of the mosaics in the Chora Church in Istanbul.
On June 8, 1950, he suffered a heart attack while visiting the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261) and of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). In 1923 the capital of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, was moved to Ankara and the name Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul; the city is still referred to as Constantinople in Greek-speaking sources. The city is located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.
Selim II, also known as Sarı Selim or Sarhoş Selim, was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1566 until his death in 1574. He was a son of Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Hurrem Sultan. Selim had been an unlikely candidate for the throne until his brother Mehmed died of smallpox, his half-brother Mustafa was strangled to death by the order of his father, his brother Cihangir died of grief at the news of this latter execution, and his brother Bayezid was killed on the order of his father after a rebellion.
Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in AD 537 in the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with a few fragments of the original structure surviving.
Byzantine art comprises the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. Though the empire itself emerged from the decline of Rome and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the start date of the Byzantine period is rather clearer in art history than in political history, if still imprecise. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Muslim states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.
Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It was the residence and garden of Robert Woods Bliss (1875–1962) and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss (1879–1969).
Following the proclamation of the Republic, Turkish museums developed considerably, mainly due to the importance Atatürk had attached to the research and exhibition of artifacts of Anatolia. When the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed, there were only the İstanbul Archaeology Museum called the "Asar-ı Atika Müzesi", the Istanbul Military Museum housed in the St. Irene Church, the Islamic Museum in the Suleymaniye Complex in Istanbul and the smaller museums of the Ottoman Empire Museum in a few large cities of Anatolia.
Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene, sometimes known also as Saint Irene, is a Greek Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. It is one of the few churches in Istanbul that has not been converted into a mosque, as it was used as an arsenal for storing weapons until the 19th century. The Hagia Irene today operates as a museum and concert hall.
The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora is a medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church preserved as the Chora Museum in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul. The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque; it became a museum in 1948, though is to be reconverted to a mosque. The interior of the building is covered with some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine mosaics and frescoes; they were uncovered and restored after the building was secularized and turned into a museum.
The Great Palace of Constantinople, also known as the Sacred Palace, was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as Old Istanbul, in modern Turkey. It served as the main royal residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors from 330 to 1081 and was the center of imperial administration for over 690 years. Only a few remnants and fragments of its foundations have survived into the present day.
Cyril Alexander Mango is a British scholar of the history, art, and architecture of the Byzantine Empire. He is a former King's College London and Oxford professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature. He is the brother of Andrew Mango.
Ernst Kitzinger was a German-American historian of late antique, early medieval, and Byzantine art.
Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, is a former Greek Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire.
Pammakaristos Church, also known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, is one of the most famous Greek Orthodox Byzantine churches in Istanbul, Turkey. Adapted in 1591 into the Fethiye Mosque, it is today partly a museum, the parekklesion. The edifice serves as one of the most important examples of Constantinople's Palaiologan architecture, and the last pre-Ottoman building to house the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It also has the largest amount of Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul after the Hagia Sophia and Chora Church.
Kalenderhane Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. With high probability the church was originally dedicated to the Theotokos Kyriotissa. The building is sometimes referred to as Kalender Haneh Jamissi and St. Mary Diaconissa. This building represents one among the few extant examples of a Byzantine church with domed Greek cross plan.
The Mese was the main thoroughfare of ancient Constantinople. The street was the main scene of Byzantine imperial processions. Its ancient course is largely followed by the modern Divanyolu Avenue.
The Byzantine Institute of America is an organization founded for the preservation of Byzantine art and architecture.
The Church of St. Polyeuctus was an ancient Byzantine church in Constantinople built by the noblewoman Anicia Juliana and dedicated to Saint Polyeuctus. Intended as an assertion of Juliana's own imperial lineage, it was a lavishly decorated building, and the largest church of the city before the construction of the Hagia Sophia. It introduced the large-scale use of Sassanid Persian decorative elements, and may have inaugurated the new architectural type of domed basilica, perfected in the later Hagia Sophia.
Carroll F. Wales was an art restorer and conservator of paintings, icons, frescoes, and murals. He specialized in the conservation of early Christian Byzantine art and worked on restoration projects in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. A fine arts major at Harvard College, he received an art conservation degree from the Fogg Art Museum. Wales graduated in 1949 and went on to restore important mosaics and frescoes at prominent museums and religious sites around the world. In addition to these projects, he became co-proprietor with Constantine Tsaousis of Oliver Brothers, an art restoration firm in Boston, Massachusetts.