Of all the sightseeing I have done in Istanbul (which is still not enough), I have been woefully neglectful of museums and galleries. Istanbul is itself an open-air museum, a breathing gallery of vibrant images and colors, so that I have completely forgotten about the traditional bricks and mortar museums and galleries that are also here.
So, when a friend told me about a great exhibit at a museum just minutes from our house, there was my chance at redemption (or at least a beginning). Even better there was a deadline. If I didn’t go prior to the holidays, then I would miss this great exhibit. No better motivation than a deadline.
(Which one especially needs during the pre-holiday season when spare time is as elusive as a winning lottery ticket.)
As fortune would have it, not only was the museum nearby, not only was it hosting this great exhibit, but it also housed a top-rated restaurant in Istanbul. Bingo!
(In fact, I had once almost made a dinner reservation there for my husband and I before I realized it was in a museum. I didn’t book it, not because of the location inside the museum but, rather, the funky hours…museum hours don’t exactly coincide with romantic dining hours.)
So, my friend and I set off to make a day of it. The grounds surrounding the museum were lovely on an overcast day in December, making us commit to seeing them – and another exhibit – come spring. Up we wound through lovely gardens to a contemporary, glass front structure. It turned out to be a great showcase for Kapoor’s work.
Of course, we had no idea who Anish Kapoor was. We had just heard that the exhibit was very good. Imagine my surprise when I read that he was none other than the creator of THE BEAN in Chicago’s Millenium Park!
(Actually, the real name of “The Bean” is Cloud Gate. Who knew? Leave it to we Midwesterners to assign a nickname to everything.)
(But it does look like a bean. A nice, shiny, very reflective bean but a bean nonetheless).
A bit about Sir Anish Kapoor:
(Sorry to omit that previously; he received a knighthood in 2013. I wonder if you receive a proper sword when being knighted? After all, a sword seems to be a necessary asset of a knight, doesn’t it?)
He was born in India in 1954 but has lived and worked in the UK since the 1970’s. He had a Hindi father and a Jewish mother, and he became an artist when the math portion of the engineering degree he was going for gave him too much grief.
(Hey, there is hope for a dependent’s financial independence without being a math guru!)
He is a highly regarded, and awarded, sculptor with many well-known creations to his name in addition to “the bean,” including: Sky Mirror, Temenos, Leviathan and ArcelorMittal Orbit. The works we saw were generally large, curved sculptures made of granite, marble, or limestone. I include pictures below.
As masterful as was his work – and it is lovely to see…
(and touch although we didn’t realize we weren’t allowed until we were 95% through the exhibition and saw the “Please do not touch” sign – the glassy smooth surfaces called our fingers like bright things beg a toddler’s hands to reach for them)
…what continuously struck us was the amount of work the museum did to accommodate his pieces. The sculptures were BIG and must have weighed a ton (or two) each. For the wall sculptures, fake walls had to be created. It’s so easy to move through a museum or gallery and be absolutely oblivious of the work required to set up and effectively present the many different pieces.
After having our appetites whetted by Kapoor’s creations, we headed to Muzedechanga for some culinary works of art. The view was spectacular, even better to be enjoyed from the large terrace (another good reason to return in the spring). The food was almost as good as the art.
All in all, a very satisfying outing and good reason to add other museums to the must-see list of sights in Istanbul. Let’s just hope the other museums also provide a feast for the stomach as well as the eyes.
(After all, food is also a pretty good motivator.)