In a city that prides itself on its history, Istanbul Modern is a refreshing alternative for those who want to see a piece of the ‘new Istanbul.’ Founded in 2004 and housing a decent collection from both Turkish and international artists, Istanbul’s largest contemporary art museum is the first of its kind in the city and is well worth a visit.
Istanbul Modern’s location along the banks of the Bosphorous inside old shipping containers makes for a cutting-edge break from the ancient mosque and scores of Nargile (Turkish water pipe) houses in Karakoy which line either side of the Museum.
Visitors to the Museum are greeted with a literal ceiling of books- Richard Wentworth’s False Ceiling (1995-2005)- and can wander the first floor which is dedicated to a number of permanent exhibitions including those by Seker Ahmet Ali Pasa (1841-1907), Orhan Peker (1927-1978), Ismet Dogan (1957-), Omer Kalesi (1932-), Cihat Burak (1915-1994) , Ihsan Cemal Karaburçak (1897-1970), Avni Arbas (1919-2003), Sema Gürbüz (1960-) and Adnan Çoker (1927-). A number of temporary exhibits and permanent installations are situated downstairs. There is also a photography gallery, cinema hall, video art area and new media art area.
Signs are posted in Turkish and English and give a brief account of the artwork and its artist. If this doesn’t satisfy, free guided tours are available (Thursday – Sunday, 3pm & 5pm; must be reserved in advance by phone). For those who prefer to go at their own pace, audio guides are also available in Turkish and English.
Even the young ones are catered for at Istanbul Modern, with a designated interactive exhibition area and an education program for those aged between 6-12 years.
The Museum also boasts an arts library, gift shop and café/restaurant where visitors can enjoy a glass of wine or Turkish coffee while watching passing boats or see the sun set over the old town of Sultanahmet and the Asian side of Istanbul.
Temporary exhibitions change frequently, so it is highly recommended to check out Istanbul Modern Museum’s website for the latest information.