According to New York Times, art historians and conservationists express a different point of view on the issue of Hagia Sophia, apart from political points of view.
Moreover, they are worried that they would not have access to study and research if the monument turns into a mosque. “I am more interested in preserving Hagia Sophia as a cultural treasure,” said Zeynep Ahunbay, a conservation architect who worked on the Hagia Sophia Scientific Committee for 25 years. “The best way to preserve and present it is by the museum function,” she added.
The greatest concern is what will happen to the incomparable medieval mosaics, including depictions of Christ, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, alongside rare portraits of imperial figures such as Emperor Justinian I and Empress Zoe.
The mosaics were whitewashed for more than five centuries during Ottoman rule – the depiction of human form is considered as idolatry – and were only discovered and restored when Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum in the 1930s.
“We don’t know what will happen to the mosaics and frescos,” said Faruk Pekin, founder of Fest Travel, which specialises in cultural excursions and led 80 nighttime walks in Hagia Sophia last year. He said that one of the pleasures of touring the building at night was that the dome looked even bigger and the golden mosaics gleamed more brightly in the dim light. “Visitors pay double for the night tour and most of them are Turks,” he added. “If the museum becomes a mosque, the mosaics will have to be covered up during Muslim prayers in some way. Tourists and non-Muslims may be restricted to certain areas,” he said. “I still hope that it will not happen,” he concluded.