Private collection opened to public view in Ankara

Private collection opened to public view in Ankara

The Turkish capital Ankara’s first modern and contemporary art collection museum, Müze Evliyagil, was opened last week. 
In days when so much art is kept behind closed doors, the most accessible art spaces to the public are galleries. But if you are not able to visit the gallery during the short period when a certain work is on display then you don’t have a chance of seeing it. If a piece is not sold then it is returned to the artist. If it is sold then it is send to the home or depot of whoever has bought it.  

Auctions are worse. The piece is sold in minutes and then nobody is able to see it again. There are even collectors who visit artists in their workshops and buy the piece without it even reaching any gallery. In other words, there are pieces you have never seen.  

Müze Evliyagil was opened by businessman Sarp Evliyagil and displays the works he has collected over more than two decades.

“Nothing you see in the museum is taken from a depot. It all came from the walls of Sarp Evliyagil’s home and office. He could have held them there and enjoyed them and nobody would have asked him, ‘Why don’t you show them?’ But he chose to share what he owned,” said Deniz Artun, who was a consultant for the museum’s first exhibition. 

Artun also noted that opening a private collection for the public to see is at the same time opening it to criticism. If you buy a piece and hang it on your bedroom’s wall, nobody would ask you, “Why did you buy this from that artist? Why did you choose this one and not the other one? Why did you combine this with that?” But if you put it in a museum, then these questions can start to be asked. “Suddenly, the purchases you have made only for yourself become a collection that you have to legitimize,” said Artun.  

Evliyagil’s collection is made up of more than 200 paintings, sculptures, video art, photography and prints of 82 artists since 1950. 

A total of 75 pieces selected from the collection are showcased in the museum for the opening exhibition under the theme “Anakara” (Mainland). 

The exhibition covers three floors. There are artists from three separate generations on each floor. Older generation artists such as Mübin Orhon, Nejad Devrim and Ferruh Başağa are displayed on the bottom floor.

On the middle floor representatives of the 1950-70 generation are displayed, such as Canan Tolon, İnci Eviner and Kemal Önsoy. The top floor has the youngest generation’s pieces, including work by Mehtap Baydu, Necla Rüzgar and Erdal Duman.

The pieces are also accompanied by excerpts from texts of three writers, each representing a different generation - Yakup Kadri, Sevgi Soysal and Barış Bıçakçı. These writers accompanied the artists who wrote these texts while they were producing their work.  

Different selections will be put on display in the museum over four-month periods under certain themes. Permanent exhibitions will also be on show alongside selections from the collection.

Make sure you don’t miss this museum if you’re passing by Ankara’s İncek neighborhood. Even better, the museum alone is worth making a trip there to see.