Pera Museum in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu is a tourism barometer

Pera Museum in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu is a tourism barometer

Whenever I wish to flee the crazy crowds of İstiklal Avenue I throw myself into the Pera Museum. The café on the first floor gives you peace and provides a comfortable working environment.

The building, which dates back to 1893, has hosted the Pera Museum since its restoration was complete in 2005.

When I met Özalp Birol, General Manager of the museum, at the café for lunch we were surrounded by chirpy children voices.

The number of students attending trainings within the scope of “Pera Education” programs has surpassed 34,000 in eight years, Birol said.

The audio guide amusingly introduces the exhibits in the museum.

As we walked around the museum with Özalp Birol, we passed a group of children sitting on the floor listening to an audio guide. Introducing art to children may open new doors in their lives.

According to researchers, art events have a positive effect on disadvantaged and disabled children or children from low income families.

Istanbul Modern and Sakıp Sabancı Museum also have programs that appeal to children.

The serial terror attacks in Istanbul in 2016 have decreased the number of museum visitors.

Cooperation projects between Pera Museum and some prominent museums in the world, such as Guggenheim Museum and The Royal Academy of Arts, have collapsed.

“We had worked for one and a half years with Guggenheim Museum on a project involving Middle Eastern artists’ most recent works,” Birol said.

As a result of canceled projects and sad events in Istanbul, the number visitors at the Pera Museum came to just 90 thousand in 2016.

In 2017, the museum made space in its collections for some excellent pieces from the Istanbul Biennial, raising the number of visitors to 140,000.

Özalp Birol showed me around the museum, which entered 2018 with two internationally recognized exhibitions.

The first of them is the exhibition “Look at me!” which includes paintings, photographs, sculptures and videos from the Contemporary Art Collection of Spain’s leading art foundation “La Caixa.”

The other one focuses on the architectural and artistic works of architect, thinker and artist Louis Isadore Kahn, who is considered among the leading figures of 20th century architecture and includes photographs, taken by Cemal Emden, of architectural works of the famous architect in several places from Pennsylvania to Dacca.

“We deem architecture as a field combining aesthetics with technology and crowning it with art,” Özalp Birol said, referring to the exhibition “Re/Framing Louis Kahn.”

This is an exhibition. Lovers of Istanbul, a city that has fallen victim to uniform buildings without aesthetic beauty because of intense urban transformation, should hold back their envy when they visit.

Speaking of Istanbul, the next project at the Pera Museum is “Beaches of Istanbul,” in other words, the beaches long gone from Istanbul.