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Sunday Morning in Kumkapı »« Istanbul Street Scenes

The Istanbul Modern

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Istanbul’s Museum of Modern Art occupies an old warehouse in Tophane, right on top of the Bosphorus Strait. Downstairs are rotating temporary exhibits, while the upper floor houses the permanent collection along with a stylish cafe that has great-looking food, and an even better looking view.

Istanbul-Modern-Travel-Blog

As is always the case in modern art museums, the quality of the work varies wildly. Some pieces are really cool, but many left us scratching our heads and making depreciative comments like “This is art? My five-year-old niece could do that!”

(I recognize that I’m just revealing the level of my ignorance by scoffing at modern art. A professional curator, educated in various artistic movements, selected this piece for the museum and it must be annoying to overhear some snide, clueless idiot like me saying, “That’s art?” Because, as he very well knows, it definitely is. But any attempt at elucidation would fly right over my snarky little head, since I don’t have the foundation necessary for even a basic understanding of it. Still. It’s a bunch of damn scribbles. My five-year-old niece really could do that.)

So instead of the art, let’s concentrate on the building and the experience of visiting the museum. The converted warehouse is cool, with exposed vents and pipes on the ceiling and a spacious feel. And the views out onto the Bosphorus are unbeatable; it was kind of funny to see groups gathered at every window looking out onto the water, while the nearby artwork was ignored.

We did enjoy the exhibitions, particularly the permanent collection which concentrates on Turkish artists. The three temporary shows were also worthwhile, and we spent well over an hour roaming the grounds. Until now, much of our focus had been on Istanbul’s rich past and historic buildings, so it was nice to be reminded that this is also very much a contemporary city with its eyes set firmly on the future.

Location of the Istanbul Modern
İstanbul Modern – Website

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April 3, 2013 at 5:44 pm
4 comments »
  • April 4, 2013 at 3:13 amMaria

    I follow a lot of blogs but don’t recall anyone else even mentioning the Istanbul Modern.  Kudos and Thank You for the entertainment and the new knowledge.

  • April 6, 2013 at 1:39 amSam

    Oh, I am totally with you on the “this is art?” comment. I find it increasingly frustrating recently going to modern art museums and asking myself this question over and over again. I think, like you’ve done here, I often prefer to go to art museums for the architecture and the experience itself, rather than to appreciate the (what is for me) incomprehensible “art”. Perhaps it makes me angry because it reminds me all that I’ve forgotten since studying art myself. Hmm…

  • April 11, 2016 at 11:35 amMEISSOUN

    When I visited last November there were a lot of really great / interesting / thought-provoking works on display. I really enjoyed my visit. But next time I’ll make sure to eat before I go – those museum restaurants are EXPENSIVE! 


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The Istanbul Modern Istanbul's Museum of Modern Art occupies an old warehouse in Tophane, right on top of the Bosphorus Strait. Downstairs are rotating temporary exhibits, while the upper floor houses the permanent collection along with a stylish cafe that has great-looking food, and an even better looking view.
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