Open Archive Tour

December 16, 2011

istory tour                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     16 Aralık’ta Açık Arşiv Turu yapan İstanbul Atatürk Lisesi öğrencileri, Hrair Sarkissian’ın SALT Beyoğlu’ndaki <i>Istory</i> [Benim Hikâyem] sergisi için fotoğrafladığı arşiv ve kütüphanelerden bazılarını ziyaret ettiler.
İstanbul Atatürk Lisesi students take an Open Archive Tour, visiting a selection of archives and libraries photographed by Hrair Sarkissian for the Istory exhibition at SALT Beyoğlu, December 16.

SALT Beyoğlu
Atatürk Library
SALT Galata
İstanbul Archaeological Museum Library

Over the course of two months in 2010, photographer Hrair Sarkissian explored a selection of İstanbul’s archives —institutions housing historical texts, primary source documents, manuscripts and multimedia— for his Istory exhibition at SALT Beyoğlu. In the process of photographing these archives, Hrair Sarkissian observed that some institutions’ resources were more accessible than others. Although many archives house public records, paradoxically, public access to these materials can often be limited. Some archives require visitors to be researchers hosted by cultural institutions or universities. Others are open to the public, but by appointment only. One way today’s institutions are finding to overcome these kinds of barriers and meet the demand for open access to information is to digitalize and share materials freely online.

This approach can be seen in the context of the Foto Galatasaray project at SALT Galata. These images, over the course of 75 years passing from photographer Maryam Şahinyan, to Aras Publishing owner Yetvart Tomasyan, and, finally, to Tayfun Serttaş, have never had a forum or a space to be considered by a wider audience. After two years of preparation, what were once negatives in boxes have become a vivid representation of the past, now available for public use, research and debate. The archive will be open to online public participation in 2012, when the tens of thousands of people photographed at Foto Galatasaray may be identified.

Access is becoming more than permission to enter a space. As both Foto Galatasaray and Istory demonstrate, accessibility can mean making information available to as many people as possible by sharing resources online; it can mean stimulating critical discussions around the past; and it can mean presenting information in a context that is objective, comprehensive and encompasses a wide range of perspectives.

In OPEN ARCHIVE TOUR, examining the nature of accessibility, students will critique the success of their neighborhood institutions in sharing resources with the public. They will have the opportunity to put some of those institutions to the test as they take a tour of the archives and libraries portrayed in Istory.

To develop a more layered understanding of “accessibility”
To, as a class, apply higher standards to public institutions in terms of making information accessible
To discover İstanbul’s research institutions as valuable resources and potential spaces for learning