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Moving Image Collections

MIColl RedSeaMonasteriesMIColl HagiaSophiaMIColl KariyeCamiiMIColl Gardens















ICFA holds a small collection of black-and-white and color 16mm moving images: the Red Sea Monasteries in Egypt, the Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii in Istanbul, Turkey, and the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Washington, D.C. For preservation, ICFA's moving image collection was sent to Colorlab in Rockville, MD in October 2011; the reformatting project was completed in March 2012. Currently, all of the original films are safely stored in ICFA’s cold storage area. Digital copies for these films are available online through Vimeo at Byzantine Institute Films and Dumbarton Oaks Gardens.

The films of the Red Sea Monasteries, Hagia Sophia, and Kariye Camii are part of ICFA's leading archival collection:

The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers

Meanwhile, the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens film is part of ICFA's general collection. It was re-discovered in early 2011 when ICFA staff learned that three (3) film reels in cold storage contained footage of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens. For background information about the films, please refer to these related blog posts:

Red Sea Monasteries film defect

The Byzantine Institute and Dumbarton Oaks Fieldwork Records and Papers contains one (1) black-and-white film of the Red Sea Monasteries, filmed in 1930, which constitutes unique documentation of the monks and local men, and the surrounding landscape. This film documents the first official project undertaken by the Byzantine Institute and Thomas Whittemore, which occurred between 1929 and 1932. 

Thomas Whittemore and Worker Cleaning a Mosaic in Hagia Sophia

Thomas Whittemore was the founder and director of the Byzantine Institute, a non-profit organization that was established in 1930 to conserve, restore, study, and document the Byzantine monuments, sites, architecture, and arts in the former Byzantine Empire.

In June 1931, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Republic of Turkey, permitted Whittemore and the Byzantine Institute to uncover and restore the mosaics in Hagia Sophia. In the late 1940s, the Byzantine Institute continued its restoration and conservation work at Hagia Sophia and also initiated a similar campaign at Kariye Camii in 1947, which lasted until 1959.

Detailed view of the face of Saint Ignatios the Younger in the westernmost lunette of the north tympanum

ICFA has twenty-one (21) 16mm color moving images that document the conservation and restoration work executed by the Byzantine Institute staff in Hagia Sophia between the years 1936 and 1940. There are also two (2) color films of the work at Kariye Camii, which were filmed before Whittemore's death in June 1950. Similarly, they illustrate the cleaning and restoration work carried out by the Byzantine Institute fieldworkers.

These movies were widely used by Thomas Whittemore to demonstrate the important work of the Byzantine Institute and to raise funds to continue the cleaning and conservation work at Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii.

Matthew Kearney and Dog Walk in the GardensICFA also holds unique footage of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, portions of which may have been recorded as early as the mid-1920s,  along with scenes from the 1930s and 1940s. In black and white and color, the film contains garden views, winter scenes, and summer scenes at the pool. There are also tantalizing glimpses of the Dumbarton Oaks' founders, including Mildred Barnes Bliss and her friends at the Orangery and Robert Woods Bliss in the gardens.




Preferred Citation:

Film: [Film Title], [Title of collection], [Identifier number], Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C.

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