Istanbul’s new museum manifesto
For a different perspective of the city’s new museums, catch a commuter ferry from nearby Eminönü quayside, via either the northerly s neighbourhoods of Arnavutköy or Bebek (a 40-minute ride), to the Emirgan quay, a brisk five-minute walk from the exquisite Sakıp Sabancı Museum. Bequeathed to the city in 2002 by Turkey’s most renowned business tycoon and philanthropist, Sakıp Sabancı , the museum is dedicated to calligraphic art, religious documents and paintings from the Ottoman-era of the 1300 to the 1900s, and holds regular one-off modern art exhibitions. What makes it unique, however, is not the vast array of fine art on display, nor the fact that the galleries are housed in a glorious mansion once home to high ranking pashas (a high ranking Ottoman general) and Egyptian governors. Rather unexpectedly, it is the on-site restaurant Muzedechanga that draws the plaudits. Located on the roof terrace above the museum, the restaurant serves up Mediterranean fusion – the grilled loin of lamb with quince, and white grouper with green chilli salsa are exceptional – and its ever-changing menu is inspired by the temporary exhibitions in the galleries below. Recently it has introduced a series of themed menus including “If Rembrandt Could Cook” and “If Monet Could Cook”, dedicated to the French masters. Items on the latter artistic menu include asparagus with croquette of quail eggs and pea soup with almonds and wild flowers.
It would be a shame to come this far north in Istanbul and miss out on the equally impressive Borusan Contemporary, an office-turned permanent art gallery and the first of its kind in the country. Located in the bustling business district of Maslak, the museum only opens to the public when the staff have shut down their computers and tided their desks and papers away for the night after 5pm. In any other city, the concept may raise eyebrows, but in a place where a book of fiction can become a reality, it is a sign that anything is possible, thanks to Istanbul’s new museum manifesto.