Turkey Museums,

The first museum in Turkey was established in the middle of the XIX Century. Until then old and valuable Ottoman works of art had been kept in the Enderun Hazinesi and the Religious Relics in the Hirka-i Serif Rooms at Topkapi Palace. In 1846 the Imperial Marshal of the Arsenal, Ahmet Fethi Pasha, collected up all the old weapons and created the Armaments Museum in the church of Saint Irene in Istanbul. The idea of establishing a museum for the display of archaeological exhibits came much later, however. While Ali Pasha was prime minister, a teacher at Galatasaray High School, Mr. Goold, was appointed as Director of Imperial Museums, and he proceeded to issue an order that all transportable antiquities of importance within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire be brought to Istanbul. In 1876 when M. Dethier was appointed Director of Museums the Tiled Pavilion was turned into an archaeological museum, while Saint Irene became the Military Museum. When D. Dethier died in 1881 Osman Hamdi Bey, a painter and Turkey’s first curator was appointed Director of Museums.
Under the direction of the artist, Osman Hamdi Bey Turkish museums entered a new period. When the Works of Antiquity Regulation was put into effect by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883, he began to organize excavations in various regions of the country. Among these was that at Nemrut Mountain near Adiyaman. The objects uncovered by the excavations in the region of Sayda in 1887 were brought to Istanbul. When the Tiled Pavilion began to suffer from lack of space Osman Hamdi Bey had a new building constructed opposite the old one, the present Archaeological Museum, and in 1891, when all the archaeological findings had been placed in the museum, it was opened to the public. As a result of excavations in Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, and Anatolia many objects were gathered and exhibited in this ‘building which grew larger as annexes were built. When Osman Hamdi Bey died in 1910, his brother Halil Ethem (Eldem) was appointed as Director of Museums. At this time the galleries of the museum were filled with objects discovered by the excavations in Didyma, Miletos, “Priene, Ephesus, and Sardis in Anatolia. In addition, the section of Old Oriental Works was Opened. In 1914 the Islamic Museum was opened in the Suleymaniye Soup Kitchen in Istanbul, which contained Turkish and Islamic works of art, and Imperial Museum Branches were Opened in the large cities of Anatolia.