World Art Museums: Pera Museum, Istanbul

Added on by Miguel Sopena.

The Pera Museum in Istanbul is a private institution created by the Suna and Inan Kıraç Foundation in 2005. The chosen venue was the former (and very stylish) Bristol Hotel in the quarter of Beyoğlu (on the European side of the city, North of the Golden Horn and close to the Galata tower). The museum houses a mixture of permanent exhibits and temporary exhibitions. The three permanent exhibits are currently Anatolian Weights and Measures, describing the history of weights and measures in Turkey from the second millennium BC (highlights include a few beautiful astronomical instruments); Osman Hamdi Bey, exploring the life and work of this Ottoman intellectual, high official, art world personality, and painter (1842-1910) who, among other achievements, founded the Istanbul Archaeology Museums and the Istanbul Academy of Fine Arts, the first of its kind in Turkey; Intersecting Worlds, featuring portraits of ambassadors and pieces commissioned by diplomatic officials, either Ottomans abroad or envoys of foreign powers in Istanbul, from the 1600s to the 1800s (lots of historical background here but few outstanding paintings); And Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics Collection, devoted to the history of ceramics production in the city of Kütahya in Western Anatolia.

The first of two current temporary exhibitions is Istanbul's Seaside Leisure (05/04 – 26/08/2018), which looks at the history of public bathing and swimming in the sea in and around Istanbul, once seen as indecent but which by the mid-1900s had become all the rage (and which, ironically, became unfeasible again as the city's population exploded in the following decades). The pioneers of this practice were Russian émigrés after the 1917 revolution, whom disbelieving locals watched parading semi-naked on the beaches, men and women together. Shaken Image (06/06 – 26/08/2018) presents work by graduates of degree and master level Fine Art courses at Hacettepe University in Ankara. I was expecting to scoot through this but, to my amazement, the work here had thought behind it, depth, style, and proper consideration for the form. Maybe (the shock!), in Turkey, Fine Art students are actually, you know, taught something. I never thought I would type these words, but this degree show actually inspired me.

Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area (and check out the cool café!).

Sculpture by Riza Tan Buğra Özer, Hacettepe University, Ankara

Sculpture by Riza Tan Buğra Özer, Hacettepe University, Ankara