Museum of Innocence in London

Museum of Innocence in London

Museum of Innocence in London

AA photo

The physical manifestation of Turkish Nobel Laureate author Orhan Pamuk’s “The Museum of Innocence,” which was published in 2008, has opened at Somerset House’s Courtyard Rooms in London. 

Joining Pamuk at the reception prior to the opening of the exhibition was Turkey’s consul general to London, Emirhan Yorulmazlar, the London representative of Turkish Cyprus, Oya Tuncalı, and TurkishBank Group CEO Hakan Börteçene. 

Pamuk said The Museum of Innocence, which opened in Istanbul in 2012, and the novel with the same name interlaced each other. 

“The museum has 83 vitrines that correspond to 83 sections in the novel. What was difficult for us was that the Museum of Innocence is a part of Istanbul. We took 13 boxes from a museum and created a whole exhibition, trying to reflecting the mood of Istanbul. We are pleased with the interest. The Museum of Innocence is a city museum; even though it is a small one, it is the museum of the 20th century. Everything is here as a package,” he said. 

Story of Kemal and Füsun 

Both the novel and the museum tell the story of engaged wealthy socialite Kemal Bey’s obsessive love for Füsun, his twice removed cousin and a beautiful shop girl, through an array of everyday items which have taken on special emotional significance as mementos and keep-sakes of the couple’s ill-fated romance. 

The exhibition at Somerset House focuses on 13 vitrines filled with everyday objects that each represents a single moment within their relationship, interwoven with film by celebrated British director Grant Gee, original material about the making of the museum and facsimile manuscripts of the novel. 

More than the sum of their parts, each vitrine lends insight into the private world and passions of the novel’s characters as well as Istanbul as a city. Some pieces, such as hair clips, toothbrushes or cologne, hint at the fictional lovers’ bodily presence, some at everyday life in 1970s Istanbul through newspaper clippings, tin spoons and salt shakers and some at key moments within their love story, such as the formal invitation to Sibel and Kemal’s engagement party. 

Excerpts from Gee’s latest film, “Innocence of Memories,” which premiered earlier this year at the Venice Film Festival and made its London debut at the BFI Southbank on Jan. 26, will contextualize the vitrines. Gee worked closely with Pamuk on creating a cinematic extension of the novel which uses the sights and sounds of contemporary Istanbul along with new text written by Pamuk from the perspective of one of the novel’s secondary characters to set the scene. The exhibition will continue until April 3.