The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum is the first museum in our country to exhibit works by both Turkish and Islamic artists. It first opened its doors in 1914 at the “Evkaf-Islamiye Museum,” an imaret building of the Suleymaniye Mosque Social Complex, one of Mimar Sinan’s (Sinan the Architect) most prominent constructions (Islamic Foundations Museum). In 1983, it was relocated to Ibrahim Pasha Palace, which is located west of Blue Mosque Square. Apart from the Sultan palaces, the museum structure, which dates from the late 15th century, is one of the oldest remaining palace buildings to this day.
The Ibrahim Pasha Palace, one of Ottoman civil architecture’s most notable monuments, stands over the old “Racetrack Square” stairwell. Suleiman the Magnificent renovated it in 1520 and gave it to Ibrahim Pasha of Pargali, his son-in-law and grand vizier. The terrace is surrounded on three sides by an elevated building built on arches. This terrace, which overlooks the Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) Square, is one of the most attractive spots in the museum.
After being closed to guests for renovation in 2012, the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum reopened in 2014, on the 100th anniversary of its inaugural opening, with a new notion of exhibition and new areas to visit.
The Rare Arts of Islamic World
Rare examples of Emevi, Abbasi, Artuklu, Eyyubi, Ilhanl, Timurid, Safavi, Kaçar, Memluk, Seljuk, and Ottoman works have been collected from various parts of the Islamic world. The museum is known for having the world’s best rug collection. The rugs are rare Seljuk carpets from the 13th century that can’t be seen anywhere else.
Aside from its rug collections, the museum is known for its immaculate pieces of art. Among the valuable items on display are glassware, stone and terracotta antiquities, as well as metal and ceramic artefacts. A vast hall in the museum’s courtyard is dedicated to the ethnographic collection, which depicts daily life in 19th-century Istanbul.
Must-See Things in Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
♦ Make a point of seeing one of the hand-woven Uşak Anatolian rugs in the museum’s carpet area, which houses one of the world’s finest carpet collections.
♦ The Selçuk era exhibits show a high level of expertise, with wall tiles and woodcarvings that appear to have inspired Ottoman style.
♦ On the bottom floor, there’s a unique collection of Yörük (Turkish nomad) folk art, including tents used by nomads.
♦ A magnificent door dating from 1155 has been recovered from the Great Mosque in Cizre (south-east Turkey).