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Dimitris and his family museum

Dimitris (Vafiadis) Daravanoğlu is a member of the Greek Community of Istanbul but also has Armenian and Italian roots in his family. He still lives in Istanbul. He is in his 30s and working as an electrical engineer.

He has been interested in his family history and developing his own museum with his family history from 1800s, their objects and a large photo archive. He wants to tell the story of non-Muslim communities of Istanbul through his family history and share it with wider audiences. To do this, he has established a website called He talks about family members, the souvenirs that they bought on their trips, stories of weddings, baptisms, and some of the difficult experiences that they faced, including the Wealth Tax, the incident of the Twenty Classes – (Yirmi Kur’a Nafıa Askerleri – “Soldiers for Public Works by Drawing of Twenty Lots”) and the Pogrom that profoundly affected the future of the non-Muslim communities of Turkey. 

You can see and read about 2mi3museum here:  

1940s Vases. The flowers were designed by Ashen

Lace Pattern Book and some of the examples of lace that Ashen made over 75 years. She learned to make lace at the age of 7 and produced a massive amount of lace work. Dimitris notes that the book is in French, since at the time French was more common than English in Turkey. 

Hurmuzios Vafiadis was a collector. He was known for going to auctions to collect antique souvenirs. However, he stopped collecting after the 1955 Pogrom targeting the Greek communities of Istanbul. This plate is called the ‘Survivor’ by Dimitris’s family, because when the attackers smashed their home, this plate manage to survive, although it haired to be put back together. Dimitris notes: ‘This plate is one of the important objects for our family, as a survivor. It reminds us of those days but also shows us to be survivors of bad days.’

I thank Dimitris (Vafiadis) Daravanoğlu for his time in talking to me and giving me permission to use this material.