A cultural heritage cataloging project, “Inventory of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Economy of Istanbul,” has been ongoing in Turkey’s capital over the past 16 months. Through a partnership between the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Istanbul 2010 Capital of Culture Agency, and other institutions, the project seeks to categorize and inventory “every sort of cultural heritage” into an accessible online database. The 2010 project, much like its failed predecessors, is an ambitious one: with Istanbul’s centuries-old history dating from the Roman Empire and rich cultural legacy of diverse inhabitants, the comprehensive digital archive is expected to number in the millions. A small budget of only TL 1,512,000 (2.2 millions USD) complicates the endeavor even further.
Yet project coordinator Professor Ahmet Emre Bilgili remains optimistic the inventory is coming along well. His team of cultural heritage specialists–including historians, restoration experts, architects, collections managers, and public relations people–has “completed the vast majority of the project” in only a short amount of time.
Here’s a short blurb answering the oft-cited question regarding “cultural mapping” projects like this one: What will it contribute?
First and foremost, this project will lend a much-desired technological foundation and model for helping record the cultural heritage of other cities across Turkey. The project will also help promote Turkey on an international level as well as increase the tourism potential of the city. The vast cultural heritage of the city will finally be gathered in one accessible pool of information. In addition, the project Internet site is free to anyone who wishes access — an open source for foreign as well as local academics, students, teachers and the curious.
Keep an eye out for the completed database, expected December, 2010: www.istanbulkulturevanteri.gov.tr.