A great number of museums in Turkey display the wealth and history unearthed during the excavations carried out throughout Anatolia, which has been home to many civilizations for thousands of years. Turkey's museums whose foundations were laid in the 19th century have come a long way since then.
Atatürk and The War of Independence Museum
Anıtkabir museum is comprised of three sections. The first section is the Atatürk Museum, where you can see Atatürk's civilian and military clothing, personal belongings, various gifts presented to him, and many assorted documents and photos, not to mention his extensive library. The second section takes you right into the Çanakkale (Gallipoli) War. The area has been set up with audiovisual effects, rocks, cannons, rifles, guns and shells; a mini enactment 3dimensional model that allows you to gain some idea in to the atmosphere and feeling of the war. The other panoramas depicting the Sakarya Meydan Savaşı and Büyük Taarruz (two of the most important battles of the War of Independence) have also been arranged to create the same effect. The third section is composed of recreations of events and reforms that took place from the time of the War of Independence (1919) until the death of Atatürk (1938)
Ankara Etnography Museum
The Ethnography Museum is the museum, where Turkish art from Seljuk era to the present time is exhibited. Public clothing, jewellery, shoes, slippers, samples collected from various regions of Anatolia, women’s and men’s socks from Sivas region, various bowls, laces, scarves, belts, handkerchiefs, bed sheets, bridal costumes, bridegroom shaving sets, old traditional Turkish art are all on exhibit. Technical material and designs unique to Turks and carpets, weaving benches from Uşak, Gördes, Bergama, Kula, Milas, Ladik, Karaman, Niğde, Kırşehir regions are on display. Among fine art samples of Anatolian Mine arts, there are Mamluk boilers from 15th century, Ottoman sweet boilers, hand washing jugs, trays, coffee trays, meal tables, cups, candle scissors etc. are also on display. Nice samples of arrows, bows, lighting pistols, rifles, swords and other things from the Ottoman period, Turkish pottery and porcelain and Kütahya porcelains, religious and sect properties, Turkish inscriptions can be seen.
Ephesos MuseumThe Ephesus Museum (Efes Müzesi), located near the entrance to the Basilica of St. John in Selçuk, displays excavations from the ancient city of Ephesus. The main highlights are two statues of the Ephesian Artemis, frescoes and mosaics.
The first exhibit one will come across in the museum is the Roman Period House Finds Room, with artefacts from the Slope Houses owned by upper class Ephesians. Among the interesting household items recovered are, a bronze Eros with a Dolphin from a second century fountain and a faded third century fresco of Socrates. There is also an ithyphallic figurine of Bes, found near the brothel. Of Egyptian origin, Bes was a protector of motherhood and childbearing.
One of the most impressive and illuminating sections in the museum museum is dedicated to the mother goddess and dominated by two colossal statues of Artemis. One is called "Beautiful Artemis" and dates from the 1st century AD; the other is "Great Artemis" from the 2nd century AD.
Topkapı Palace Museum
It is located on the promontory of the historical peninsula in İstanbul, which overlooks both the Marmara Sea and the Bosporus. The walls enclosing the palace grounds, the main gate on the landside and the first buildings were constructed during the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (the Conqueror) (1451 - 81). The palace has taken its present layout with the addition of new structures in the later centuries. Topkapı Palace was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans, starting with Fatih Sultan Mehmet until 1856, when Abdülmecid moved to the Dolmabahçe palace, and functioned as the administrative centre of the state. The Enderun section also gained importance as a school.
During the 18th Century when the Topkapı palace took its final shape, it was sheltering a population of more than 10.000 in its outer (Birun) and inner (Enderun) and Harem sections. It shows no architectural unity as new parts were added in every period according to the needs. However, this enables us to follow the stages in Ottoman Architecture from the 15th to the middle of the 19th century. The buildings of the 15th - 17th centuries are simpler and those of the 18th - 19th centuries, particularly the exterior and interior ornamentation are more complex.
Topkapı Palace was converted to a museum in 1924. Parts of the Palace such as the Harem, Baghdad Pavilion, Revan Pavilion, Sofa Pavilion, and the Audience Chamber distinguish themselves with their architectural assets, while in other sections artefacts are displayed which reflect the palace life. The museum also has collections from various donations and a library.
The Museum of Anatolian CivilizationsSelected the European Museum of the Year in 1997, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is located on the hill with Ankara's ancient Citadel, in the district called Atpazarı (the horse market). The Museum occupies two Ottoman buildings, that have been specifically renovated and altered to suit their new roles.
In accordance with the suggestion by Atatürk that a Hittite Museum should be established, an Anatolian Civilizations project was initiated to gather all artefacts, remnants and other findings of the Hittite civilization in Ankara. Thus launched, the project has grown into one of world's most significant museums sheltering unique collections.
The museum has Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Late Bronze Age, Hittite, Phrygia, Urartu and Late Hittite sections.
Corum Archaeology Museum Çorum and its locals have been demonstrating a considerable interest in archaeology since the first initiatives of Atatürk in 1935 to launch the excavations in Alacahöyük. In addition to those of the Alacahöyük excavations, the unique handicrafts found at Boğazköy, Ortaköy, Eskiyapar, Pazarlı, Kuşsaray and Alişarhöyük enriched the collections at hand and provided the Çorum Museum with valuable assets when it was first founded in 13 October 1968. Throughout time, the collections have become even richer by exceptional purchases. Besides archaeology, the museum has dedicated a well-designed section to ethnography, which successfully depicts the local culture and life.
The Boğazköy Museum, which was founded in 1966 in the area of Hattushash, the ancient capital of Hittite, is also affiliated with the Çorum Museum.
Museum of Underwater ArchaeologyThe Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology was established in the Bodrum Castle in 1964. Initially, the restoration of the castle was the priority; later, exhibition halls were created in the available space. Today, there are 14 exhibition halls in the Museum of Bodrum. As the name of the museum suggests, it includes mostly underwater artefacts.
The Glass Hall, with is ongoing exhibition of glass and glassware, was opened in 1986, with the assistance of Paşabahçe Glass and Bottle Factory. General information about the museum's glass collection is provided here. The specimens are exhibited in a dimmed area, with illumination from below. This method of exhibition permits better viewing of all the various markings and colours of the glass. Specimens dated from the 14th century BC to the 11th century AD are on display. The hall also contains an aquarium, which has been set into an indentation in the wall. The aquarium has a small, but detailed model, which illustrates an underwater excavation.
All of the specimens found in the excavations of Uluburun between 1984-1995 will be exhibited in Uluburun Shipwreck Hall, which is scheduled to open in 1999. The excavation and research of the oldest shipwreck in the world dated back to the 14th century BC was conducted first under the direction of Prof. Dr. George Bass, and later under the direction of Dr. Cemal Pulak, under the auspices of University of Texas A.M. and The Underwater Archaeology Institute. This shipwreck was found and dated in 1982 by a team under the direction of T. Oğuz Alpözen, the director of the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
Antakya Archaeology Museum
Archaeological excavations were started for the first time in 1932 in Hatay and collected Roman Art from the second and third centuries are works from Antonius and Severius period. Roman and Byzantine mosaics found in the structure of Zeus, Tethys Okeanos, Apollo, Psyche, Eros, Satyros, Aphrodite, Bacchus .Construction of the Hatay Archaeological Museum began in 1934, inspired in part by the excavations of ancient Antioch that began in 1932 and on the recommendation of the French archaeologist M. Prost. The museum was completed in 1938, and a year later, the Hatay province was reunited with Turkey. The museum was reorganized and reopened in 1948, and again in 1975.
The collection of the Hatay Archaeological Museum is spread throughout seven rooms and two halls, arranged according to where the artefacts were found. The rooms are tall and full of large windows, providing plenty of natural light. One of the most famous mosaics in the Antakya Museum is the Megalopsychia Hunt Mosaic, a large mosaic pavement dating from 450-75 AD. Discovered in Yakto village near Daphne, the mosaic is especially celebrated for its border, which depicts major landmarks and daily activities in ancient Antioch and Daphne. It is an important source for archaeologists, since virtually no structures from these ancient cities survive today.
Other highlights of the superb mosaic collection include the Boat of Psyches, the Drinking Contest, a rare Menander with Glykera and Comedy, the Buffet Supper with dishes full of ancient foods, and the magical Evil Eye mosaic that was intended to deflect curses from a second century home.
Hagia Sophia MuseumHagia Sophia is considered a unique monument in world architecture, and its magnificence and functionality has been a good example in the construction of countless Ottoman mosques. Hagia Sophia, with its exceptional history, constitutes a synthesis between east and west. This monument is one of the wonders of the world that has remained intact until the present day. One can find many attractions in Hagia Sophia - interesting forms of Roman Empire architecture, mosaics of the Christian period as well as structures added during the Ottoman era.
Hagia Sophia has been a Christian place of worship for 916 years, then converted into a mosque and served Muslims for 481 years. Hagia Sophia Museum was opened in 1935 and ever since, it has been attracting thousands of visitors every year.
After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the so-called 'Turkish period' started, and several repairs were made in Hagia Sophia. The art works surrounding the mihrab includes the best samples of Turkish pottery and calligraphy. The sure is taken from the Koran inscribed on rounded plates of 7.50 m diameter by Kazasker Mustafa Izzet Efendi, a famous Ottoman calligrapher. The names of Allah, Muhammad, Omer, Osman, Ali, Hasan, Ebu Bekir and Huseyin are inscribed there. On the sidewalls of mihrab there are plates written and granted by Ottoman sultans.
Istanbul Archeology Museum
The Directorate of Istanbul Archaeology Museums under the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey is on the Osman Hamdi Bey Ascent that opens to the Topkapı Palace Museum from the right of the Gulhane Park Entry, in Sultanahmet district.
İstanbul Archaeology Museums consist of three museums: Archaeology Museum, Old Eastern Works Museum and Enameled Kiosk Museum.
İstanbul Archaeology Museums, which were established as Muze-i Humayun (Empire Museum) by the famous artist and museum director Osman Hamdi Bey at the end of the 19th century, were opened to public on 13 June 1891. Besides its importance as the 'first Turkish museum', it has an importance and specialty being one of the museum buildings that was constructed as a museum. Today, it still protects its outstanding place in the World's biggest museums with its works that amount to more than a million and belonging to various cultures.
Among the collections, there are rich and very important works of art belonging to various civilizations from Balkans to Africa, from Anatolia and Mesopotamia to the Arab Peninsula and Afghanistan that were within the borders of the Ottoman Empire.
Izmir Archaeology MuseumThe first archaeology museum in İzmir opened in 1927 at Ayavukla (Gözlü) Church, in the district of Tepecik. The second museum was founded in 1951 at the Culture Park. However, since the region is very rich in terms of archaeological sites, both museums were insufficient and a new and modern museum was needed. It was established on a 5000 sqm area in Bahribaba Park in Konak on 11 February 1984.
The museum was designed to meet various needs with exhibition halls, laboratories, warehouses, photography rooms, libraries and conference halls. The number of monuments on display in the museum building and in the garden is more than 1500. The entrance floor of the museum is devoted to the exhibition of significant archaeological monuments found during the excavations of Iasos, Pitane, Bergama and ancient Smyrna. Busts, portraits and statues dating back to the Archaic, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods are displayed here. The hydrias of Hellenistic period, glassware, coins and a bronze Demeter statue are among the significant assets of the museum. On the entrance, the marble statutes are exhibited.
Zeugma Mosaics MuseumZeugma is an ancient city of Commagne, currently located in the town of Nizip, forty-five kilometres from Gaziantep.
The significance of Zeugma is the Roman villas and their floor mosaics. Zeugma had captured the public attention, when the Birecik Dam Project brought up the possibility that Zeugma could have been inundated under the dam's waters. Majority of the Roman villas were brought to daylight within the framework of a rescue excavation, which was intensified in 2000. Yet, the total of the excavations, which were originally started in 1987, have discovered only a small number of these unique mosaics.
Today in the Zeugma Mosaics Museum 500 meter square-wide mosaics, 35 mosaic panels as well as the famous 1,50 cm. long bronze Mars and Aphrodite statutes are in display. The museum is proudly the second biggest mosaic museum of the world.
Antalya Archaeology Museum
Antalya Archaeological Museum is one of Turkey's largest museums, located in Konyaaltı, Antalya. It includes 13 exhibition halls and an open-air gallery. It covers an area of 7,000 sqm and has 5000 works of art on display. In addition, a further 25.000 – 30.000 artefacts, which cannot be displayed, are in storage. As a museum displaying examples of works, which illuminate the history of the Mediterranean and Pamphylia regions in Anatolia, Antalya Museum is one of the most important among Turkey's museums. The Museum won the “European Council Special Prize”. The Museum’s exhibition rooms are as follows: Natural History Hall, Pre-History Hall, Proto-History Hall, Classic Period Hall, Statuary Hall, Hall of Small Objects, Hall of Imperial Statues, Sarcophagus Hall, The Mosaic Hall, Hall of Coins, Turkish - Islamic Period Works, Ethnographic Hall, Children's section.
İstanbul Modern Museum
İstanbul Modern, the first private museum to organize modern and contemporary art exhibitions in Turkey, was founded in 2004 and occupies an 8,000 sqm site on the shores of the Bosporus. The museum embraces a global vision to collect, preserve, exhibit and document works of modern and contemporary art and make them accessible to art lovers.
As part of its commitment to sharing Turkey’s artistic creativity with wide audiences and promoting its cultural identity on the international art scene, the İstanbul Museum of Modern Art hosts a number of interdisciplinary activities. With its permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, photography gallery, library, cinema centre, cafe, design store, and its video, educational and social programs, the museum offers a wide array of services in a multifaceted venue.
The Pera Museum, which opened its doors in early June 2005, is the first step of a comprehensive cultural endeavour that the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation has launched at this distinguished venue in the city, for the purpose of providing cultural service on a variety of levels. Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation's collection of Orientalist art consists of more than 300 paintings. This rich collection brings together important works by European artists inspired by the Ottoman world from the 17th century to the early 19th. This collection, which presents a vast visual panorama of the last two centuries of the Ottoman Empire, includes works by Osman Hamdi, regarded by art historians as the genre's only "native Orientalist" and of course his most famous painting The Tortoise Trainer. Many paintings from the private collections of the late Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül have also entered the foundation's permanent collection. It is planned to exhibit the collection in the Sevgi and Erdoğan Gönül Gallery dedicated to their name in a series of long-term thematic exhibitions. The first of these, which opened in early June 2005, is called Portraits from the Empire and consists of portraits of sultans, princes, and other members of the Ottoman imperial family as well as of foreign ambassadors together with other "portraits" in the general sense, showing people from many different periods and walks of life.