Speaker: James Grehan, Associate Professor, Department of History at Portland State University
When: June 28, 2012
Where: Damascus Room
THE DAMASCUS ROOM IN CONTEXT: ACQUISITION, FURNISHINGS, CONSERVATION
A colloquium celebrating the opening of Shangri La's Damascene interior to the public on July 7, 2012
This presentation will try to put the Damascus Room and its furnishings into a broader social perspective. It will briefly sketch out the social and economic background of late Ottoman Damascus, and then examine the domestic realities of the vast majority of the population, who lived in modest circumstances. The talk will fall roughly into two sections. The first will deal with typical residential architecture: the design of homes, the infrastructure to which most people had access, questions of lighting and heating. The second will look closely at the everyday objects with which Damascenes surrounded themselves. The most lasting impression left by the domestic interiors of this period - well before the onset of modern consumerism - is one of poverty and utilitarian sparseness. It is only through this experience of the majority, managing their homes within these harsh contraints, that the artifacts within the Damascus Room can truly be appreciated.