Physical exhibition OPEN

By Natalia Chan









A unique online exhibition showing how the Ottomans shaped London and the rest of Europe through music, medicine and art is to launch on June 1st through a unique collaboration including the British Council, and with artwork from the largest private Islamic art collection in the world.

An exclusive preview of the exhibition will be launched on Thursday May 13th, bringing together the Khalili art collection, music from the Royal Academy of Music, Suki Chan, an award winning film-maker who recently appeared in the BBC’s School of Saatchi, Mercan Dede, an international Turkish Sufi pop star, as well as leading historians on Ottoman history.  The exhibition will focus on the travels of a 17th century Ottoman Evliya Celebi, a pious Muslim, musician, soldier, and story-teller. Through his eyes we will also explore the constant conversations between the Ottoman Empire and Europe through trade in coffee, music, medicine and architecture.

The physical preview will take place in Bethnal Green Library, on the site where Samuel Pepys, a contemporary of Evliya Celebi, stored his diaries during the Great Fire of London. The physical exhibition will be open for a few days from 14 –15 May before being transformed into a virtual experiment with its launch in the UK, Istanbul, Germany, and other European countries.

The exhibition is part of the British Council’s Our Shared Europe Project which seeks to acknowledge the contribution of Islamic communities and cultures – both in the past but also in the present – to the shaping of contemporary European civilisation and society.

The exhibition is organized by Maslaha at the Young Foundation, and designed and curated by Effusion.  The preview will take place at Bethnal Green Library on 13 May from 6.30pm

'Evliya Celebi: Book of Travels' is featured in Time Out, the July issue of Elle Middle East, and has also been covered by East London Advertiser.  There will also be an event on Friday at City Circle entitled "How the Ottomans shaped and were shaped by Europe", featuring three world renowned Ottoman experts - Caroline Finkel, Donna Landry and Gerald MacLean.  For more information, visit the City Circle website.

To find out more about the exhibition visit:

Watch our video blogs as we build the exhibition at