Today’s Istanbul Archaeology Museum, which is now one of the largest museums in the world, is the first museum in Istanbul to be built in the Ottoman Empire on the way to modernity.
The first collection was housed in Hagia Irene in 1846 under the name “Mecma-i Asar-ı Atika”. In 1869 the name was changed to “Müze-i Hümayun” (Museum of the Empire) and from 1873 the exhibits were moved to the faience pavilion (Çinili Köşk), which is located within the palace walls of Topkapı. Under the direction of the famous painter Osman Hamdi Bey, the museum moved to the current building for the last time in 1891 and was founded again with its original name “Asari Atika Müzesi”.
With their millennia-old art, the museums in Istanbul primarily illustrate the way of life and traditions in the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire. Most interesting buildings in Istanbul, such as the Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia or the Topkapı Palace – seat of the Ottoman sultans – as well as other palaces and castles have been converted into museums and are located on the historic peninsula south of the Golden Horn.
The museum pass gives you free entry to selected museums. In the meantime, there are also a number of private museums that primarily present the Turkish art scene in all its diversity, but also show the life and own collections of well-known personalities from Turkey. Most of them can be found in the modern part of Istanbul, north of the Golden Horn.