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Visiting Istanbul’s Modern Art Museums


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Istanbul is one of the world’s most exciting and exotic cities. It has a history revealing artefacts unearthed from the seventh millennium B. C. , which indicates that the area that is now the country’s largest city was inhabited before even the Bosphorus was formed. Not only is the city an amazing amalgamation of culture and history, it is also one that has the unique aspect of straddling two continents.

Split between Asia and Europe, the city has more attractions and historical sites than many others and, while you are enjoying a stay in one of the best Istanbul hotels, you can soak up the atmosphere of luxury and plan your exploration of the city’s wonderful art museums. Istanbul has a thriving and growing art scene that benefits from the merging of East and West, and the new art coming out of the city demands that you pay attention. While here, be sure to visit the Museum of Modern Art, the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art and the Santral Istanbul.

Museum of Modern Art

Conveniently located near some of the best Istanbul hotels, at Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Antrepo No: 4, Tophane, the Museum of Modern Art is a testament to the “New Istanbul” art scene. The museum was founded in 2004; it was the first of its kind and is still the largest modern art gallery in the city. As an entrée, visitors find themselves among the containers which seem to have come straight off of the Bosphorus and into an elaborate room with books for a ceiling: a work of art by Wentworth. From there, wander through the permanent exhibits, which include works by Seker Ahmet Ali Pasa, Sema Gürbüz, and Ismet Dogan, just to name a few. The temporary exhibits change frequently and the museum has interactive exhibits for young visitors as well as a café to relax before heading back out into the buzz of the city.

The Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art

First founded in 2001, in 2005 the Elgiz came under a new name and its mantra seeks to “facilitate the globalisation of contemporary Turkish art, whilst familiarising the viewing public with a wealth of important international art" - which it certainly does. Charting modern art for the past fifteen years, the glass warehouse in the Maslak business district is a beacon for new and emerging artists. While on a weekend, or longer, break in one of the best Istanbul hotels, you simply must see the works of the Elgiz in order to know who and what is hot (and not) in the Turkish art scene. If you plan your visit at the right time of the day you can pop in for the lectures and talks that are often held at the museum.

The Santral Istanbul

Drag yourself away from the comforts of the best Istanbul hotels and have a driver take you to the Santral Istanbul; you may feel a twinge of nostalgia as it somewhat mirrors the industrial feel of the Tate Modern in London. The Santral is housed in the Ottoman Empire’s first power plant (Silahtaraga), and its cool, sleek exterior certainly lends itself well to the array of contemporary artworks inside. It was opened in 2007, and is part of the campus of the Istanbul Bilgi University. Depending on when you visit, you can see digital art, film, sculpture, fine arts and other forms of creativity in this ever-changing exhibition space. And should you get peckish while wandering around, you can pop into one of the three cafes and then visit the interesting Museum of Energy, which is also housed here.

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Looking for the best Istanbul hotels ? Roberta Stuart is the Travel Manager for Worldhotels, a company offering the best rooms in a selection of unique four and five star hotels around the world.


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