Istanbul Archeology Museum, Turkey's first museum is home to more than 1 million works which survived from the civilizations established on a wide geography from the Caucasus to Anatolia, from Mesopotamia to Arabia.
Istanbul Archaeological Museums, located on Osman Hamdi Bey, a steep street extending from Gülhane Park to Topkapı Palace in the historical peninsula and called as "museums complex" consists of three main sections as the Archeology Museum, Museum of Ancient Oriental Art and Tiled Pavilion Museum.
The history of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum dates back to the Ottoman period. The first museum opened in the Ottoman period was "Müze-i Humayun", known as the State Museum, established in the Hagia Irene with the efforts of Ahmed Fethi Pasha, the Marshal of Topkapı. The museum consisted of two main sections, Mecma-i Asar-i Atika, known as the Antiquities Collection, and Mecma-i Esliha-i Atika, known as the Old Weapons Collection.
Examples of Turkish Tile and Ceramic in the Tiled Pavilion Museum
As the collections of the museum gradually grew, the artifacts in the museum were moved to the Historical Tiled Pavilion, which was used as the hunting lodge of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror and one of the oldest examples of civil architecture of Istanbul built in 1472, and was opened to visitors in 1880. Examples of Turkish tiles and ceramics from the Seljuk and Ottoman periods are on display today in the Tiled Pavilion Museum.
Osman Hamdi Bey, who was appointed as administrator of the Tiled Pavilion Museum in 1881, opened a new era in Turkish museology during his administration. Osman Hamdi Bey, who carried out excavations in Mount Nemrud, Myrina, Kyme and other Alolia Necropolises and Lagina Hekate Temple also carried out excavations in Saida (Sidon) between 1887-1888 and discovered the Sidon King Necropolis and returned to Istanbul with many sarcophagi, including the world-famous Alexander Sarcophagus. These artifacts are exhibited in the Archaeological Museums.
New Museum Building Built in Neo-Classical Style
When historical Tiled Pavilion proved insufficient to house the artifacts, the building, which is used as the Istanbul Archeology Museum, was built. The neo-classical style museum building, built by Alexander Vallaury, the architect of the Sanayi-i Nefise School (Academy of Arts) in 1883, was opened to visitors on June 13, 1891. The inscription in Ottoman Turkish on the pediments of the gates at the entrance of the museum says “Asar-ı Atika Müzesi” (Museum of Antiquities). The tughra on the inscription belongs to Sultan Abdulhamid II.
The building, which was used as the Sanayi-i Nefise School and today serves as the Museum of Ancient Oriental Art, exhibits artifacts of the pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Anatolia, and Cuneiform Documents.
"It will be a Museum with no Physical and Communication Barriers ”
Muharrem Hayır, Deputy Director of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, who gave information about the restoration works carried out in the museum, said, "The restoration and reinforcement works started in the main building are planned to be carried out in three phases. The first phase of the works was completed in September 2019 and part of the classic main building has been opened to visitors. With the restoration carried out at the Museum, the aim was not only to design a museum that constitutes a clear reference center for national and international archeology and features simplicity and symmetry, but also to unveil the rich archaeological heritage of Turkey. At the same time, we wanted to create not only a space for exhibiting artifacts, but also a museum addressing the human perception capacity, harmonizing the texture, light, scale and messages of the structure and the exhibitions, facilitating the continuity of technological resources and lacking any physical or communication barriers.”
Hayır, who stated that 370 thousand 963 visitors visited the museum in 2019 to date, said that the works are in progress on the south wing of the main building, part of which was recently opened to visitors. “We are planning to open the south wing in June 2020. After these operations are completed, the restoration works in the north wing of the main building will continue" added Hayır.
100 Museums of Istanbul Ahmet Apaydın-Ömer Faruk Salar- İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Kültür A.Ş. Publications-Istanbul-2017