Collector of Ottoman items runs museum, helps strays

Collector of Ottoman items runs museum, helps strays

AYDIN – Demirören News Agency
Collector of Ottoman items runs museum, helps strays

Emel Aksoy runs a museum displaying the belongings of her grandfather, an Ottoman grand vizier, in the western province of Aydın’s Söke district to help stray animals with all the income earned from visitors. 

A collector and the granddaughter of Şakir Pasha, a grand vizier to the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II, Aksoy spends the money generated from the visits on 60 stray cats in her neighborhood. She had turned her house into a museum four years ago, which has been drawing great interest from visitors.

Aksoy, 78, and her husband Erol Aksoy, a retired colonel, had left Istanbul’s chaos 10 years ago to buy two houses in Doğanbey neighborhood, located on the Kuşadası Dilek Peninsula, famous for the historic houses that once belonged to the country’s Greek minority. 

Collector of Ottoman items runs museum, helps strays

In 2014 Aksoy turned one of these houses into a museum to display her family’s belongings, including Ottoman-era dresses, unique needle laces, hats and jewelries that she has been collecting since her childhood. 

The museum, which is home to 150 ethnographic objects, is a popular venue for local and foreign tourists in the district. 

“Some of my family members are from Rumelia and some are Yörüks who hailed from Central Asia. We descend from Şakir Pasha, Kamil Pasha and Sadık Pasha, who went to Cyprus. I’ve had a passion for female costumes since my childhood. At school my teachers used to ask me what I wanted to wear on the Eid holiday. I used to say that I would be a villager and carry cannon on my back. I lost my mother and father when I was 14. My grandmother raised me. I grew up listening to stories of the Balkan Wars from her,” Aksoy said. 

200 years of history 

Aksoy said her museum displayed a history of 150-200 years, which people could pay 20 Turkish Liras to see. All money raised from the admission tickets are spent on the food bought for the 60 stray cats in the Doğanbey neighborhood. 

“I have more than 150 objects in my museum. I display dresses on models alternately. This is not a very big building; it is the bedroom of my grandmother. We opened the museum in 2014. At first, we used to come here in the summers only, but we later started coming all the time. I am very happy here and in love with all the historic objects. I did everything here on my own. I am also selective about the museum visitors. We want to be together with people that are interested in history and culture, because they understand what I want to say very well. We ask museum visitors to pay 20 liras. It is spent on the museum’s expenses and for 60 cats living in the village,” she said.