A History Of The Pera Museum In Istanbul In 1 Minute

Photo of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
6 September 2016

One of Istanbul’s most important museums, Pera Museum, has been exhibiting a diverse spectrum of art ever since its inauguration in 2005. Founded by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, Pera Museum opened its doors on June 8th, 2005. Here’s a brief look at the history of the museum, including its most important events throughout the years.

Located in the historic Pera neighborhood, the museum’s building was originally conceived as the Bristol Hotel (designed by architect Achille Manoussos and built in 1893) and underwent major renovations to turn the interior into a modern, and fully equipped, exhibition space. Architect and restorer, Sinan Genim took on the job and was able to successfully preserve the exterior façade while updating the interior to serve its new purpose.

The permanent collections belonging to the foundation, comprise Orientalist Paintings, Anatolian Weights and Measures, and Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics. Over the years, the museum has also held temporary exhibitions including the works of iconic names such as Jean Dubuffet, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rembrandt, Josef Koudelka, Joan Miró, Akira Kurosawa, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, and Goya, to name a few. Pera Museum has also worked alongside Tate Britain, Victoria and Albert Museum, St. Petersburg Russian State Museum, JP Morgan Chase Collection, New York School of Visual Arts, and the Maeght Foundation, for joint projects.

Pera Museum | © Turkey Vision/Flickr / Pera Museum| © Wikimedia Commons / Pera Museum| © Wikimedia Commons

The museum is focused on promoting the work of young artists, collaborating annually with national and international institutions to exhibit the work of these artists. Every visual event is also accompanied by books and catalogs. Pera Film hosts frequent screenings including independent works and documentaries, to satisfy the whims of cinephiles.

Even though the museum is notable for all its exhibitions, the permanent Orientalist Paintings collection is especially noteworthy. Taken from Suna and İnan Kıraç’s private collection, it’s a trip back in time to the Ottoman Empire from the 17th and 20th centuries. One of the most important works in the collection is Osman Hamdı Bey’s The Tortoise Trainer (1906), a work that must be seen when in town.

Beginning September 8th (until October 16th), the museum will host the work of New York based artist Katherine Behar: Data’s Entry. The exhibition features the artist’s works of sculpture, performance, video, and writing, that explore the baffling relationship between people and technology in the field of digital labor.

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