Vaults of Heaven: Visions of Byzantium

Part I: Friday, October 1, 2010 - Sunday, January 23, 2011
Part II: Friday, February 4, 2011 - Sunday, May 29, 2011

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The exhibition Vaults of Heaven: Visions of Byzantium presents a series of extraordinary ultra-large-scale photographs, many over six feet tall, by the renowned Turkish photographer Ahmet Ertug. Focusing on paintings, mosaics, and architecture of the Byzantine world (6th-14th centuries AD), the photos provide a journey through such venerated sites as Istanbul's Hagia Sophia and Church of Christ of Chora, as well as churches in the Cappadocia region of central Turkey, an area known for hidden Christian retreats hewn out of the region’s unusual volcanic rock formations. Trained as an architect, Ahmet Ertug combines a deep understanding of Byzantine history and culture with an artist's eye. His remarkable photographs capture the mystery and power of these ancient sites, offering viewers intimate views of the great domes, expansive structural details, and exquisite mosaics and paintings of these sacred spaces.

Accompanying the photographs are objects from the Kelsey Museum’s collections of Byzantine and Islamic material, including gold coins, manuscript pages (on loan from the University of Michigan Museum of Art), small carvings, pottery, and wooden architectural fragments. 

Vaults of Heaven: Visions of Byzantium will be displayed in two parts. Part I runs from October 1, 2010, until January 23, 2011, and includes images from two famous metropolitan churches in Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and the early 14th-century Church of Christ of Chora.  Part II, on display from February 4 until May 29, 2011, focuses on Karanlik, a monastic compound built in the 11th century; Tokali, the largest church in Cappadocia, with paintings from the 10-11th centuries; and the church of Meryemana (“Mother Mary”), which is currently closed to the public. Both exhibitions provide a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about and experience some of the wonders of the Byzantine world.