Have you ever dreamt of being inside a book? Have you ever thought how would it be if you could see the objects that belong to the characters of a novel? And what if a museum is related to a personal story and not to a historical period or a topic? This is exactly what one of the most interesting museums in Istanbul is all about: The Museum of Innocence.
This very special museum exhibits all the objects that explain the love story between Kemal and Füssun, the characters of the book”The Museum of Innocence” by Ohran Pamuk.
Pamuk, who is a very well known Turkish writer, awarded with the Nobel Prize and fond istanbulite, conceived the museum and the book together. The objects presented in the museum are carefully collected by Kemal, madly in love with Füssun, from 1974 to 2000, when the novel is set.
I would totally recommend writing this museum on your list of things to do in Istanbul, but first it would be perfect if you can read the book, which is also about the city and the Turkish recent history and society. The museum is small but extremely charming, organized in four levels and a bookshop.
The Museum of Innocence of Istanbul is a whole new concept for a museum because it wills to explain the little stories of the people and not just historical facts. There is even a “Modest Manifesto for New Museums”, which ends with the sentence: The future of museums is inside our own houses.
The thing I loved the most about this museum is the sensitivity that it transmits, all the love in the little things: how a collection of cigarettes turns from trash to a symbol of the obsessive love of a man. The Museum of Innocence is also homage to the little things; the little objects but also de little lives that make a big city like Istanbul. Also the ambiguity between fiction and reality turns the visit to Ohran Pamuk’s Museum into a fascinating experience.
While you go from one display the other (there is one for each chapter from the novel) you would feel yourself immersed in another world, the world of Turkey in the seventies, the world where women had many difficulties to get a driving license, surrounded by the jet set of Istanbul and their big parties and small celebrations. Every detail makes a beautiful story and contains also a story in itself.
The Museum of Innocence is located in the building where Füssun was supposed to live in the novel, in Çurkuma. A very charming neighbourhood made of narrow and steep streets. The street that lead to the museum is curiously full of antique shops…just in case that you thing about starting your own Museum of Innocence otr want to contribute with a donation to the museum, which is also possible.
I can just recommend to make some time on your next visit to Istanbul to go to this unique museum. Which is the most curious museum where you have been?