Ankara’s first ever private archaeology arts museum and opens
Emine Kart ANKARAThe Turkish capital’s first-ever archaeology and arts museum, the Erimtan Archaeology and Arts Museum, has just opened, hosting an impressive collection of objects dating back to the Bronze Age of 3000 BC, the Hittite era, the late Roman period, and the Byzantine Empire.
The museum was opened last week with a reception attended by academics, artists, senior bureaucrats and members of the diplomatic community who have long been anticipating the unique museum, opened thanks to the efforts of engineer, collector and passionate art lover Yüksel Erimtan. Tourism and Culture Minister Ömer Çelik was also present at the opening reception.
The museum is based around a collection of archaeological artifacts acquired by Erimtan over the years.
Erimtan began assembling his collection in the 1960s when he was working on site near the town of Tarsus in the Mediterranean province of Mersin. He started by acquiring Roman ring gems, before later branching out and building up his collection thanks to the advice of expert archaeologists.
Concerned about the gradual loss of Anatolia’s cultural heritage due to smuggling abroad, and in order to raise awareness on the issue, Erimtan believed that it was important to share his private collection with the public.
To this end, in 1996, he spearheaded an initiative to set up the Association for Collectors of Cultural Heritage. In 2009, Erimtan founded the Yüksel Erimtan Culture and Arts Foundation, in order to further enhance awareness and to contribute to the promotion of Anatolian cultural heritage both in Turkey and abroad.
Now, the Erimtan Archaeology and Arts Museum has finally opened its doors in Ankara, under the aegis of the Foundation.
Jeweler Josef and keepsake from the Father
Speaking at the opening reception on March 12, Erimtan described the story of how he became a collector.
“A jeweler named Josef had a tiny shop. I used to stop by his shop from time to time. One day, we were having coffee there with the owner of the shop. Two peasants came and they had small gems in their hands. When I asked Josef what they were, he told me they were ‘ring gems.’ Peasants found ring gems, rings, and things like that, as they walked around ruins after rain. This answer reminded me of the small gems in a bowl at home, which were a keepsake from my father. I took some of those gems from home and brought them to Josef. He said they were ring gems that had been used since the Roman period. In this way, my journey of becoming a collector, which has continued until today, began on that day,” he said.
The Erimtan Museum is in a unique location facing the western fortification walls of the Ankara Citadel, close to the internationally renowned Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the old square of the historical citadel, the Ottoman Clock Tower, the Main Gate of the Ankara Castle, and the grand caravansaries from the early Ottoman period. The museum is composed of three historical houses that were converted into a museum building after meticulous research.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the new museum will stage temporary exhibitions that will both provide a new perspective to archaeology and also showcase exhibitions that experiment with contemporary artistic expressions inspired by antiquity.
The museum has opened with an exhibition titled “Harmonices Mundi” by Alev Ebüzziya, one of the foremost 20th century masters of ceramic vessels. The exhibition brings together ancient Anatolian pottery from the Erimtan Collection with the works of Ebüzziya.