Yazı: Jülide Karahan Fotoğraf: Hamit Yalçın
There are four Museums of Painting and Sculpture in Turkey, located in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and Erzurum. The Ankara Museum of Painting and Sculpture, which has close to five thousand items in its collection, opened in recent months after a ten-year hiatus.
Years after growing up, Orhan Pamuk asked his father how his parents understood that he had a talent for painting... His father reminded him of a picture he drew at age seven: “You did a drawing of a tree. And then you put a crow on one of the branches. Your mother and I looked at each other. Because the crow was perched on the branch just the way a real crow would be.” Pamuk, who thus grew up with the dream of becoming a painter with the addition of the support from his father, would pick up his pretty model/lover from school in his youth, and they would go to the Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture, to which they went in five minutes from the minibus stop right across the school. He tells of those days in “Istanbul: Memories of the City”: “We’d made [going to the museum] a habit because it was easy to get there quickly from her school. Above all, it saved us from the city’s cold gloom. ...But still, the main reason we came to this building, originally built for the Dolmabahçe Palace’s crown prince… was not that the galleries were empty or convenient, and not that the late Ottoman splendor of the high ceilings and wonderful wrought-iron balconies was refreshing after the tiring poverty of Istanbul, and not that the Bosphorus views from its large windows were much more beautiful than most of the paintings on the walls; what kept us coming back was our favorite painting. This was Halil Pasha’s “Reclining Woman.”
Of course, we all know that Orhan Pamuk became not a painter, but a writer. But as he wrote in “The Naive and Sentimental Novelist,” he wanted to tell what was happening in his head and soul with clarity and openness, just as how a painter depicts a complex, lively landscape covered with mountains, plains, forests, rivers, and rocks. Because, for him, writing is to paint using words, and reading novels is to animate pictures in our minds using others’ words.
In another period and in another city, but in a similar way, Mehmet Turgut—the third generation in his family profession, photography—spent a time at the Ankara Museum of Painting and Sculpture. Just as he said in an interview he gave for AnadoluJet Magazine’s September issue, “I came to Istanbul at age thirty...” “I was in Ankara until then. There isn’t very much to do there, so out of necessity, you do your work. ...All I was capable of doing was taking photographs, but I wasn’t very pleased with this. I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what. ... I would go to the Museum of Painting and Sculpture and work on painting, for example. Why I did that is unclear. You know how something gets stuck in your throat before crying and you can’t get rid of it even when you swallow? That was the state I was in. I had so many feelings inside me and I didn’t know how to release them. One night, at some point, I said to myself, “Why don’t I try to do the paintings I want to do with photographs instead?” and I started.”
Should we look into it, who knows how many times we would witness these museums of painting and sculpture in Turkey—which can be counted on one hand—untying knots in people’s throats. There are only four of them, located in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and Erzurum... The last two are quite modest. In Konak, İzmir, there are perhaps around five hundred items. The one in Erzurum is located in a cultural center and only sixty-one paintings are on permanent display. The one in Istanbul, meanwhile, in which there are more than ten thousand items, has been closed since 2006 due to restoration work.
The best news comes from the one in Ankara—after a hiatus of nearly ten years, it reopened on July 13. A young person touring the museum recently was telling the person he or she was with, “I am seeing the originals of these works for the first time. Actually, in fact, I am seeing an original work fro the first time in my life.” There are works from Osman Hamdi Bey to Abdülmecid Efendi, from Şeker Ahmet Pasha to Fikret Mualla, and from Şevket Dağ to İbrahim Çallı.... You know how something rises up from within and becomes lodged in your throat? Paying the museum a visit will pay off. It provides inspiration in some way.
ISTANBUL MUSEUM OF PAINTING AND SCULPTURE
Atatürk allotted the Crown Prince’s Chambers at Dolmabahçe Palace for the use of the Academy of Fine Arts (the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts), and Turkey’s first Museum of Painting and Sculpture was thus opened on September 20, 1937. There are more than ten thousand paintings and six hundred sculptures in the collection, which includes paintings by Şeker Ahmet Pasha, Giritli Hüseyin, Süleyman Seyyid, Hüseyin Zekai Pasha, and Osman Hamdi Bey.
ERZURUM MUSEUM OF PAINTING AND SCULPTURE
The Directorate of the Erzurum Museum and Gallery of Painting and Sculpture was opened in the top floor of the Public Education Center building, within the corpus of the Ministry of Education, in 1963. Transferred to the Ministry of Culture in 1976, the museum continues to operate within the Erzurum Culture Center complex.
İZMIR MUSEUM OF PAINTING AND SCULPTURE
The İzmir Museum of Painting and Sculpture opened on September 9, 1952 as a gallery within Kültürpark. In 1973, thanks to the effort of painter Turgut Pura, who was its director at the time, it became a museum and moved to a new building in Konak, where it is still located.
ANKARA MUSEUM OF PAINTING AND SCULPTURE
Built by architect Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu in 1927, the museum building hosted not only Atatürk’s meetings, but also the first opera, the first theater performance, and the first exhibition at the time. Designated as the headquarters of the Turkish Hearths, the building served as the Ankara Public House after the Turkish Hearths was closed, and opened its doors on April 6, 1980 as the Museum of Painting and Sculpture.
There are close to five thousand items in the collection of the Ankara State Museum of Painting and Sculpture.
A hall in the Ankara State Museum of Painting and Sculpture that has hosted Atatürk’s meetings.
Around 750 items are exhibited at the Ankara State Museum of Painting and Sculpture.
The collection of the Ankara State Museum of Painting and Sculpture consist of works by artists from the late Ottoman era to the early Republican era.
The opera hall of the Ankara State Museum of Painting and Sculpture, whose project was prepared in 1927 by architect Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu.
Detail of a ceiling from a room in a building that served as the Ankara Community Center until 1950.
The front façade of the renewed Ankara State Museum of Painting and Sculpture.
A picture from Adnan Çoker’s “Siyah Resimler” (Black Pictures) series.