Legendary photographer Ara Güler’s museum opens in Istanbul

Legendary photographer Ara Güler’s museum opens in Istanbul

Ara Güler celebrated his 90th birthday last week with the opening of a museum that carries his name.

This time, he is the main subject of all those trying to take his picture.

“I have always remained loyal to Istanbul,” Ara Güler had told the French newspaper Le Monde in the interview he gave for the opening of his exhibition in Paris.

He has remained loyal to Istanbul with thousands of black and white pictures he has taken of the city starting from the 1950s, but he has not refrained from going on other adventures in Turkey and in Europe as photo reporter.

In the 1970s, portraits of celebrities like Pablo Picasso, Dali, Chagall, Alfred Hitchcock, Fellini, Arthur Miller, Churchill, Maria Callas, Aragon and Indira Gandhi were seen in internationally prominent magazines through his lenses.

We owe it Ara Güler for the unearthing of Aphrodisias, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site exactly a year ago.

If in 1958, he was not lost on his way back from the opening of a dam in the Aegean province of Aydın, excavations in this ancient Roman city would have never started.

Villagers living among ancient ruins

The Geyre village is set up on the remains of Aphrodisias, which has an interesting story.

When Ara Güler came across villagers living side by side with Roman columns, using some of the remains as tables and chairs, he immediately started photographing these mind-boggling scenes. Unfortunately, the pictures he took did not receive any interest in Istanbul.

He then sent these pictures to archeologist professor Kenan Erim, who was at Princeton University at the time.

The pictures were published in Times magazine along with Erim’s article.

Erim began excavations in 1961. They continued until his death. His grave is in this ancient city, as his name has come to be identified with it.

More than two million photos

In an interview he gave in 2012, Ara Güler said he had more than two million photographs in his archive.

“My most important worry is the maintenance of this archive after my death,” he said.

Ara Güler must now be happy. A museum in his name has been opened while he is alive and his archive is now in safe hands.

The Ara Güler Archive and Research Center (AGAVAM), which came to life with the cooperation of the Doğuş Group, has opened its doors together with the museum in Bomontiada.

Doğuş Group’s Art Advisor Çağla Saraç and her young team have been working for the past two years to classify the archive and to create an inventory.

As underlined by Hüsnü Akhan, the CEO of Doğuş Group, hundreds of thousands of pictures are handled one by one and are being registered in a unique archive system developed by the Doğuş Group.

The archive will soon be open online.

Gila Benmayor, Ara Güler Museum, Bomontiada, aphrodisias