Turkey’s first paper museum woos global interest
KOCAELİ – Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s first and the world’s largest paper museum, the Seka Paper Museum in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, has drawn crowds from both Turkey and abroad as it charts paper’s “adventure.”
Opened in November 2016, the museum has so far received 171,611 visitors from Turkey as well as countries as diverse as Germany, Russia, Iran, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Hungary.
Considered Turkey’s biggest industrial transformation project, the museum occupies 12,345 squared-meters of the old Seka paper factory, which was founded in 1936.
After manufacturing paper for 70 years, the factory building was restored and now hosts the Seka Paper Museum and Kocaeli Scientific Center.
To follow in the footsteps of its initial opening on Nov. 6, 1936, the factory was reopened as a museum on Nov. 6, 2016, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
The museum charts paper’s “adventure” in Turkey during the 20th century, a process which began with early industrialization efforts in İzmit and the establishment of the paper factory, but soon spread across the whole country.
The museum is home to 115 showcases, including the manufacturing stages of paper, Kocaeli’s history, the factory’s history and social milieu.
The machines from the Seka paper factory have been restored to their original for the museum’s display.
Kocaeli Mayor İbrahim Karaosmanoğlu said the Seka Paper Museum was one of the nascent Republic’s first industrial enterprises.
According to him, the factory lost its role over time. “In 2005, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the factory to be handed over to the Metropolitan Municipality along with its workers. We were not able to produce paper here anymore. It became a different business, not one for the municipality to govern. So we turned the place into a scientific center,” he said.
Karaosmanoğlu also said some machines were repaired and operating again. “Visitors can see what a factory looked like 80 years ago as well as follow the technological and historical adventures of paper. It is a lovely museum. We protect our historical heritage.”
The most important of the restored machines is the second paper machine from Seka’s first paper factory. This machine operated for 70 years, from the factory’s opening until the moment of its closure.
Apart from the machines and equipment used in the paper production process, the museum also displays a number of exhibits chosen from tens of thousands of photographs, documents and objects, including Roman-era coins, documentary videos on Seka’s history and sculptures made of paper and recycled materials.
The museum’s collection and archive is continuing to expand through donations. Online viewers can also access the archive and collection.
The Mehmet Ali Kağıtçı Memoir Room, dedicated to Turkey’s first paper engineer and Seka’s founder, displays a number of books and documents written by the factory’s founder.
The four-story museum also offers workshops for children to produce paper with traditional methods as well as marbling workshops and exhibitions.