Istanbul reopens its Museum of Modern Art in new spectacular premises

Istanbul Modern, Turkey’s most prominent institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art, just open to visitors in a new spectacular building designed by world star architect Renzo Piano, facing the Bosphorus.

Opened first in 2004 in a former warehouse structure where the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn meet, Istanbul Modern, Turkey’s (Türkiye) leading museum dedicated to modern and contemporary arts, relocated in a landmark building on the Karaköy waterfront, one of Istanbul’s most historic districts. It officially opened to the public in June but started to welcome its first visitors in early May.

Across 10,500 square meters, the new Istanbul Modern provides a purpose-built space for a dynamic range of temporary exhibitions, interdisciplinary educational programs, film screenings, and an extensive art collection. Spanning the period from 1945 to the present, the collection features works by international artists who reflect Turkey’s artistic creativity and have played an active role in the global transformation of art. It has taken five years to achieve and open the new facility.

The building has been designed by the world famous architect Renzo Piano, who already designed other museums across the world such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Menil Collection in Houston, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York or the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland. Istanbul Modern is Piano first project in Turkey.

The design of the building was inspired by the glittering waters of the Bosphorus and its reflections of light. Echoing the history of a site that has been used as a harbour for thousand years, the outline of the building evokes the ships which sailed between Europe and Asia. The façade is made by a sequence of 3-D-formed aluminum panels that play with the changing sunlight, creating a shimmering, iridescent envelope evocative of fish scales. 

Istanbul reopens its Museum of Modern Art in new spectacular premises
(Photo: LC/Cleverdis)

The Museum is fully integrated in Karaköy waterfront, one of Istanbul’s newest area for culture and tourism. The museum stands next to Istanbul new cruise terminal in Galataport and Istanbul Museum of Painting and Sculpture which exhibits works from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Istanbul Modern transparent ground floor offers views to the waterfront promenade and houses the museum library, education and event spaces, digital touchscreens, a café, and a museum shop featuring new collections of objects inspired by the museum’s exhibitions.

The building’s first floor is home to the photography gallery, pop-up gallery, event spaces, education rooms, and staff offices. Istanbul Modern’s restaurant is also located on the same floor and offers spectacular views of the Bosphorus and Historical Peninsula from an outdoor terrace. The second floor houses the museum’s permanent collection gallery, which provides an unparalleled panorama of modern and contemporary art from Turkey and beyond, as well as the main temporary exhibition gallery.

An exceptional panorama of Turkish and international art since 1945

“Floating Islands”, the name of the main exhibition constitutes Istanbul Modern’s most comprehensive collection exhibition to date, showcasing more than 280 works by 110 artists and 2 artist duos. Most of the works in the selection will be displayed for the first time. Another highlight is “Always Here”, a temporary exhibition bringing together 17 works by 11 women artists that have been added to the collection through the support of the Women Artists Fund established in 2016. There is also a dedicated Photography Gallery.

The museum also boasts a 156-seat auditorium for the museum’s regular film programs and interdisciplinary events. A one-of-a-kind viewing terrace at the top of the building hovers above a shallow reflection pool covering the entire roof, providing a 360-degree view of the Bosphorus and the city. The new building’s transparent and accessible design reflects the ethos of the museum: a multifaceted experience offering visitors audience-oriented exhibitions and programs inspired by the artistic diversity of the present day. It is to turn into a major attraction for travellers looking to discover Turkey’s dynamic art scene.

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