Dr. Mehmet Aga-Oglu was an Islamic art historian and professor born on August 4, 1896 at Erivan in Russia Caucasia.
In 1916, Dr. Aga-Oglu was awarded a Doctor of Letters in the history, philosophy, and languages of Islamic countries from the University of Moscow. Following his graduation, Dr. Aga-Oglu traveled through Turkistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Asia Minor studying Islamic art. Dr. Aga-Oglu returned to academia in 1921 at the University of Istanbul where he studied the history of Islam and the Ottoman Empire.
During his time as a student at the University of Istanbul, he traveled extensively to European universities as a part of his program of study. This included studying Near Eastern art and architecture under Dr. Ernst Herzfeld in Berlin; classical and early Christian archaeology and Western art at the University of Jena; and completing his art history studies in Vienna. Dr. Aga-Oglu was awarded a Ph.D in philosophy in 1926.
Dr. Aga-Oglu was appointed curator by the Department of the National Museum in Istanbul in 1927. In 1929, the city of Detroit recruited Dr. Aga-Oglu to build the Department of Near Eastern Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 1933, he was appointed as Chair of the History of Islamic Art at the University of Michigan. He joined the university first as a Freer Fellow and Lecturer and then later became a professor.
Dr. Aga-Oglu's accomplishments during his tenure included representing the University and the Detroit Institute of the Arts at the Millennium Celebration of Firdausi and the Congress of Orientalists in Tehran in 1934; organizing an exhibition of Islamic art at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco in 1937; founding and serving as editor of the periodical Ars Islamica; and serving as a Visiting Professor at the Summer Seminar of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Princeton University in 1935 and 1938.
Following his departure from the University of Michigan in 1938, Dr. Aga-Oglu primarily focused on research and writing. His publications include Persian Bookbindings of the Fifteenth Century, History of Islamic Art, and Safawid Rugs and Textiles. From 1948 to 1949, Dr. Aga-Oglu consulted for the Textile Museum in Washington D.C.
Beginning in 1940, Dr. Aga-Oglu planned, researched, and wrote drafts of his unpublished work Corpus of Islamic Metalwork. His project was intended to be a multi-volume work, but was not completed. Dr. Aga-Oglu died on July 4, 1949.