If there is one thing you will never get bored of doing during your stay in Istanbul, that is visiting its countless amazing museums. From contemporary art galleries to historical museums, there is no shortage of places to visit in this city. If you want to make the most out of your time and plan before heading to Istanbul, here are the best museums and galleries in Istanbul.
Founded in 2005, Pera Museum is one of the prominent contemporary museums in Istanbul. It is located in the lively and culturally rich district, Beyoglu, and is a must-visit if you are an art-lover. There are three amazing permanent collections inside the Pera Museum: “Orientalist Paintings”, “Anatolian Weights and Measures”, and “Kutahya Tiles and Ceramics”. Plus, many temporary exhibitions rotate over the course of the year, so it is not the same if you visit this museum twice. On top of these, Pera Film and Pera Learning is also in the museum. Pera Film is an informative and entertaining monthly program that showcases and examines various classic and experimental movies and videos. Pera Learning, on the other hand, is a program that was created to raise awareness for art and make art more accessible by all age groups.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
One of the most important points in the Turkish history undoubtedly has been its meeting with Islam. If you are interested in the history and/or want to learn how Turks came to accept the Islam and how their cultures and art were affected by this, buy a Turkish Islamic Art Museum Ticket. The building of the museum is actually Pargali Ibrahim Pasha’s palace, who was Suleiman the Magnificent’s second grand vizier. Inside, you will find many Turkish and Islamic historical relics while getting the chance to examine how these two separate art forms gradually became one. A couple of examples of this would be the carpets and rugs section, Prophet Muhammad’s beard and one of his footsteps, Old Door of the Cizre Great Mosque, and religious documents. It is definitely one of the top museums of Istanbul.
Madame Tussauds Istanbul
One of the most fun museums in Istanbul, Madame Tussauds is a must-visit for anyone who passes by Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Avenue. You will find +60 extremely detailed wax models of various popular people, ranging from celebrities to historical figures like Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Albert Einstein. If you ever feel lost, you can always read the small information tablets near the wax models to learn about them. Some parts of the museum are also interactive. For example, you can wear Mozart’s wig or Mohammad Ali’s gloves and take a picture! The interior design of this museum is also very unique; it makes you truly feel like a superstar. Whether alone or with friends and family, you shouldn’t miss Madame Tussauds Museum.
Sakip Sabanci Museum
Established by the Sabanci University in the house of the famous Turkish businessman Sakip Sabanci, this museum is one of the most modern and prominent private museums in Istanbul. So much so that the first temporary exhibition that Sakip Sabanci Museum hosted was “Picasso in Istanbul”, which brought 135 rare pieces owned by the world-renowned painter Pablo Picasso. Located in a very privileged location next to the Sariyer’s beautiful shores, Sakip Sabanci Museum hosts a variety of different exhibitions, ranging from contemporary collections to classical collection that focus on 19th and 20th century art. On top of these, you will also find a restaurant that belongs to Turkey’s best culinary institution, Mutfak Sanatlari Akademisi (Culinary Arts Academy).
Another popular private museum with a focus on art is the Borusan Contemporary. It is the first museum in Turkey to be a member of International Association of Corporate Collections of Contemporary Art. Inside, you will find various permanent and temporary exhibitions with a general focus on classical music and visual arts. These valuable collections range from video art and new media to photography, from both local and international artists. An interesting fact about this museum is its building; it is actually a mansion built by Yusuf Ziya Pasha to impress his young love. It is known as Yusuf Ziya Pasha Mansion, or more famously, Perili Kosk (The Haunted Mansion). This stems from the rumors about this mansion being haunted after its construction was stopped midway in the 20th century. But rumors aside, this is one of the best contemporary galleries in Istanbul.
Istanbul’s Naval Museum is one of the largest museums in Istanbul, and that is saying something in a city that has dozens of museums. It is also known as the Maritime Museum, and inside, you will see the largest collection of historical relics and objects regarding the naval history of Turkey and the Ottomans. In the large 17 rooms and 4 halls named after the wind directions, you can find anything related to the navy, such as ship and boat models, navy clothes, armors and weapons, documents about the navy, maps for ships and so much more.
Museum of Illusions Istanbul
If you ever want to take a quick and fun break from Istanbul’s countless historical sites, visiting Museum of Illusions Istanbul will be a breath of fresh air for you. As you can understand from its name, you will experience many real-life illusions inside this place. While illusions are cool when you see them on the internet, they are much more interesting and mind-blowing when you see them in real life. There are many tricks that will confuse you, like optical illusions, the Hollow Face Illusion, the Beuchet Chair illusion, the Clone Table illusion and the Head on the Platter illusion. You can take funny photos with these illusions too. On top of these, there is a Smart Playroom section in which visitors can try themselves in various cognitive challenges, so this museum is one of the most fun family attractions in Istanbul.
Istanbul Archeological Museums
Istanbul Archeological Museum has 3 different museums: Archeological Museum, Museum of Ancient Orient, and Tiled Kiosk. Inside the Archeological Museum, which is in the main museum building, you can find various archeological artifacts from various periods from Helen Civilization to the Ottoman Empire. In the Museum of Ancient Orient, many historical objects from the pre-Islamic periods of the Greek, Egyptian, and Arabian Peninsula of Anatolia and Mesopotamia can be seen. In the Tiled Kiosk, you can examine countless historical relics from the Ottoman and Seljuks periods.