The spectacular Istanbul Modern is at the pinnacle of Turkey’s art scene. Tracing Turkish art back to the beginnings of the contemporary era, it provides a fascinating insight into the transitioning political, cultural and social dynamic of the country. With works ranging from paintings to sculpture to photography to film, there’s something to entertain every kind of artist.
The stunning artwork greeting visitors upon entrance to the Istanbul Modern embodies the works housed throughout the museum – a shattered glass staircase, created by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini, hangs from steel chains in a stunning blend of textures and tones, vividly capturing all the modern art movement represents. It’s a dynamic introduction to some 8,000 square metres of space exhibiting photography, film, architecture, design, paintings and sculpture, amongst much more.
The Istanbul Modern stands, in true contemporary fashion, in a converted warehouse on the southern shore of the Bosphorus – it’s worth eating at the in-house restaurant just to admire the panoramic views across the strait. The warehouse was divided into two floors: the upper floor is home to the permanent collection, where the works of prominent Turkish artists are displayed in chronological order to give art viewers a visual representation of the dynamic changes in Turkish art across the modern era, while the lower is home to temporary exhibitions and the photography gallery. A unique feature of the Istanbul Modern is its pop-up gallery, also on the lower floor, which features a range of design, video and new media projects.
The T1 tramline takes visitors strait to Tophan station, within five minutes walk of the Istanbul Modern. Free guided tours run at 3pm and 5pm from Thursday to Sunday, however these must be reserved by phone. Audio guides are available for those who would rather guide themselves from piece to piece. Countless hours could be spent interacting with each artwork, however two hours should be sufficient to visit the highlights of Istanbul’s finest art museum.