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Pera Museum

From The Marmara Taksim
10 Min
15 min
Two historical pictures inside of the Pera Museum

In 2005, the historic Bristol Hotel was transformed into Pera Museum, an art collection focusing on 19th-century Orientalist holdings. In addition to art, Pera also has a special focus in artifacts and ceramics, making it the perfect destination to immerse yourself in the Ottoman world and the Turkish canon.  

Its most famous permanent holding is Ottoman archaeologist and artist Osman Hamdi Bey’s The Tortoise Trainer (1906), as well as a range of famous Ottoman works. Hamdi Bey himself is noted for having founded the collection at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, and for bringing to Istanbul the famous Alexander Sarcophagus. Pera Museum is also home to Anatolian objects and an extensive collection of tiles and ceramics; it often hosts temporary exhibitions in collaboration with some of the world’s largest art institutes, including the Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Some artworks that have graced its halls include those by Picasso, Warhol, de Chirico, Rembrandt, Goya, and more.  

No matter which foreign artists are on display, however, Pera Museum is worth a visit for its rich collection of Ottoman art, an experience one can only truly get in Istanbul itself. It also has a historical depth to its collection, due to its extensive Anatolian artifacts.  


History of the Pera Museum 

The Pera Museum is a private institute founded by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation. The building it is housed in, the historic Bristol Hotel, was built in 1893, though the hotel itself has now moved to a different destination near Taksim Square. The hotel housed many notable international guests; it was the height of luxury for a time, though by the end of the 20th century it had become outdated.  

The facade of the building is Neoclassical and the interior of the museum preserves the elegance of the initial museum while focusing on the art. It was renovated from 2003 to 2005 to become the building it is today, which is now one of the most iconic cultural institutions in the city.  

The Pera Museum Collections 

Besides one of the most famous Turkish paintings of all time — The Tortoise Trainer — the Pera Museum’s permanent collections have a wealth of other art to boast about, including other Hamdi Bey creations. The Pera Museum has three permanent collections: Orientalist Paintings, which exhibits the foundation’s range of art from and about the Ottomans; Anatolian Weights and Measures, a collection of more than 10,000 artifacts from the region of Anatolia, from prehistoric times to the 20th century; and Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics, a collection of outstanding craftsmanship that dates back to the 1980s.  

The Pera Museum’s temporary exhibits are also absolutely fascinating. Past exhibits have included And Now the Good News, an exploration of art and mass media courtesy of the Annette and Peter Nobel Collection; and From Istanbul to Byzantium: Paths to Rediscovery, a highlight of emerging Byzantine studies. As mentioned above, the museum also shows the work of renowned international artists on occasion, usually in partnership with other museums.   

From modern art to mixed media, prehistoric artifacts to Ottoman treasures, all kinds of collections are on display at the Pera Museum.  

How to Visit Pera Museum 

The Pera Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. On Sunday, it is open from 12:00pm to 6:00pm.  Inside the museum, there’s also an Art Deco-inspired café, as well as a theater for film and documentary screenings. You can read more about the museum here 

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