The museum that changed Turkish art

As Turkey's first and biggest museum of modern and contemporary art marks its 10th birthday, Nikki Bedi meets curator Celenk Bafra to find out how it has become a top international art destination so quickly.

Before a former customs warehouse opened in 2004 as the Istanbul Modern, Turkey was not known for contemporary art. The new museum changed everything: it is now home to the Istanbul Biennial and the heart of a bustling art district in the Karaköy area.

Istanbul Modern primarily focuses on Turkish art although, in addition to its permanent collection, it hosts exhibitions and individual works by artists from across the world – such as False Ceiling by Richard Wentworth, Ann Dancing in a Sequined Dress by Julian Opie and sculptures by Richard Deacon and Tony Cragg. There is also a wide range of video work by artists such as Inci Eviner.

Not wishing to play it safe, the museum features work that is at times provocative and difficult. In this programme, Nikki explores the conviction, and sense of adventure of the Istanbul Modern – a serious gallery that has put Turkey on the international art map.



For more stories from our Heart of Turkey series, please visit our programme page.

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