A fascinating mix of historic artefacts, traditional arts, important paintings and modern art can all be found in the superb Pera Musuem – a private museum in a stately 19th century building that was once the historic Hotel Bristol, designed by the architect, Achille Manoussos (according to the Pera Museum wiki entry). It was founded by the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, which also runs the Istanbul Research Institute next door.
Orientalist Paintings exhibition at Pera Museum, Istanbul
There are three permanent exhibitions at the Pera Museum Istanbul:
1) Orientalist Paintings – important works by European artists who were inspired by the Ottoman culture.
2) Anatolian Weight and Measures – this surprisingly interesting section consists of thousands of pieces of measuring instruments from central Anatolia.
3) Kütahya Tiles and Ceramics – a chance to see the masterpieces and best examples of craftsmanship from Kütahya, a city famous for its talented tile and ceramic artists. There’s even a dedicated Turkish coffee section within it.
There are also temporary exhibitions on the top three floors. The most famous Pera Museum exhibitions to date have included the Pera Museum Goya exhibition in 2012, the Pera Museum Andy Warhol exhibition in 2014, and other important artists including Rembrandt, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Fernando Botero, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera. For other big name exhibitions, check out the Sakip Sabanci Museum.
Exterior of Pera Museum, Istanbul
The most famous painting in Turkish art history “The Tortoise Trainer” by Osman Hamdi Bey is a masterpiece that is the most expensive work of art ever sold, after it was bought for $3.5m in 2004. It portrays the patience of a Sufi dervish and the difficulty of change. You can actually check it out in advance, as it’s featured on the Google Cultural Institute Pera Museum entry.
The Tortoise Trainer by Osman Hamdi Bey is a masterpiece that is the most expensive work of art ever sold
If you need a break, the Pera Museum café offers a decadent environment to enjoy a drink and a cake. It also screens art house and film festival movies as part of Pera Film, and also hosts occasional music events and panel discussions.
The Pera Museum hours are from Tuesday-Saturday 10am-7pm and Sunday 12pm-6pm. Admission costs 20 TL. On Friday evenings between 6pm-10pm it is free for all visitors in what Pera Musuem calls Long Fridays. It also participates in museums night with A Long Night at Pera Museum, when it stays open until midnight with special performances and concerts. Check their website for dates.