The Romantic Story Behind the Avanos Hair Museum in Turkey

Hair Museum | © Nevit Dilmen / WikiCommons
Hair Museum | © Nevit Dilmen / WikiCommons

Cappadocia’s atmosphere is unmistakably mysterious, with its underground cities and strangely shaped fairy chimneys. It’s also no surprise that one of the world’s weirdest museums, made entirely of hair, also calls this area home.

Avanos, a small town in Cappadocia, is famous for its pottery and ceramics, a tradition that goes back thousands of years. In the basement of one of the area’s renowned ceramic shops, however, is an entirely different attraction: a cave-like room filled with hair or, more specifically, locks of hair from more than 16,000 women from all around the world, alongside notes with their names and contact information.

So what’s the story behind this rather strange exhibition of human hair samples? Well, Turkish potter Galip Körükçü (who owns the store upstairs, Chez Galip) had to bid farewell to a very dear friend because she was moving away from Avanos. Because the separation was so burdensome, his friend cut a lock of her hair for him to keep as a memento. And so, every woman who heard this sad story came by his shop and offered him a lock of her hair as well. Approximately 38 years later and the museum has amassed quite the collection of different colored locks of hair, all donated to a man who was once very sad to part ways with a dear friend.

Hair Museum | © Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia Commons

As soon as you enter the museum, you’ll notice that every surface, except the floor, is covered with the hair-mementos and their accompanying notes. Some women even left their photo to be further immortalized in this eccentric exhibition. It’s also no surprise that Galip’s collection is included in the Guinness World Book of Records. Of course, there is another reason why the collection has grown so steadily. Twice a year (in June and December), the first customer to enter Galip’s shop on a particularly chosen day is the lucky person who gets to go down to the museum and pick 10 winners off the wall who receive an all-expenses-paid vacation to Cappadocia as a thank you for their support. Part of the prize is also the chance to take part in a pottery workshop with the talented pottery master himself, for free.

Of course, not every woman who enters the shop is expected to leave a lock of her hair, but if you do wish to make a small donation, scissors, paper, pens, and tape are all provided. And while you’re there, make sure to visit the shop upstairs as well because, apart from being the founder of this peculiar museum, Galip Körükçü is a ceramic master who has successfully preserved the traditional style of Turkish handicrafts and amassed recognition both in Turkey and abroad. The working ceramic atelier and shop have produced a beautiful collection of stunning handmade ceramics with historical, contemporary, floral, and geometric designs.

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