Nestled in an old three-story wooden house in Çukurcuma dating to 1897, the Museum of Innocence might be the first museum ever dedicated to a novel. While the Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk was writing his novel “The Museum of Innocence” (Masumiyet Müzesi), he started collecting several objects as a source of inspiration for his creative process.
Pamuk’s novel follows the story of Kemal in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on his obsessive love for a young woman called Füsun. Kemal starts collecting the objects belonging to Füsun, including her dresses, her driver’s license, and even 4213 cigarettes she smoked and disposed of. All these imaginary objects are at display today in the Museum of Innocence, organized in a chronological way corresponding to the chapters of the novel. Orhan Pamuk rightly says that one does not need to read the novel to understand the museum, as the exhibits actually aim to document life in Istanbul from the 1950s up to the 2000s with pictures, objects and ephemera meticulously collected by the writer himself.
The Museum of Innocence is in the historical neighborhood of Çukurcuma, which also attracts visitors with its antique shops and art galleries. You can reach the museum with an easy stroll from Taksim Square or Tophane.
Hint: The ticket printed in the closing pages of Orhan Pamuk's novel “The Museum of Innocence” would grant you free access to the museum. Do not forget to grab an English audio guide to understand the context fully.