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24 Hours in Istanbul: A Cultural Initiation at the City's Modern Art Museum

Where: Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Liman İşletmeleri Sahası Antrepo 4, Istanbul, Karaköy , Turkey, 34433
January 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM | by | ()

If you're super-short on time in buzzing Istanbul (which is something that frequently happens with long layovers), we've "been there done that" so here are the things that’ll let you experience the modern side of Istanbul in a rush.

When you think of Istanbul we can’t blame you for thinking “ancient city,” “old ruins” and “archaeological treasures" (or singing "Istanbul, not Constantinople" to yourself). You’re absolutely right to, and if you haven’t yet had the chance to see the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet) and Topkapi Palace you should definitely go. But, if you’re ready for something new and especially if contemporary history is more your thing, don’t skip the Istanbul Modern.

[Gül Ilgaz, Falling, 2004]

This cutting-edge museum is found right by the Bosphorus so it’s in a stunning location, which means you can take lots of pretty photos to show the folks back home. But more importantly, it has excellent displays of modern and contemporary art from international and, in particular, local artists.

The works are not shy; rather, the words "bold" and "provocative" came to mind. The Istanbul Modern serves as an eye-opener, proving false any stereotypes you may have secreted inside regarding Istanbul, with its mix of European and Asian cultures and treasure-trove past. In fact, the museum’s biggest gift to outsiders is to show that the city links to its past, but it is not resting there.

[Fatma Tülin, Nude, 1990

The institution opened in 2004 and was the first private museum in Turkey to showcase modern art. It has permanent as well as temporary galleries; a photography collection that started with 312 photos and now has over 7300; an extensive library; a cinema; a design store; and a café/restaurant where you can get hopped up on Turkish coffee and filled up on mezes.

This summer the Istanbul Modern is hosting the first temporary installation in its courtyard as part of the Young Architects International Program started by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1 in New York, created so that young hot-shot architects could show off their stuff. This year’s winner will be announced in February.

[Top photo: Janice Tober/Jaunted; Artwork: Istanbul Modern]

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