Istanbul Airport Museum
For the last several years, when I have visited a local archaeology museum in Turkey, I often encountered, in place of prized artifacts, a sign saying, in effect, “This item on temporary display at the Istanbul Airport Museum.” So it has been high on my list to visit the Istanbul Airport Museum and see the collection. The new Istanbul Airport is massive, so I was not able to locate the museum on previous trips. However, I hunted it down during a recent layover to Greece. Here is the essential information.
There are some “Museum” signs in the main hall to point the way, but they are sparse. The museum is located above the Yotel airport hotel in the international terminal. After passport control, turn left toward gates A, B, and C. When you turn toward Yotel, take the staircase up to the second floor. Then turn left and continue past the pet bathroom (sic!). The museum is at the end of a long hall in a desolate corner of the airport.
Although the signs in the provincial museums suggest that the exhibit is temporary, a staff member said that the exhibit will remain indefinitely. The quaint museum can be viewed in 30 minutes. Entrance costs 13 euros, but is free with a Turkish MüzeKart.
Visiting the new museum felt like walking through a slick, glossy airline magazine. While the museum does gather many fine pieces into one space, its main purpose is clearly to promote tourism. The goal is to inspire travelers to visit related sites throughout Turkey.
Below each display is a screen that provides basic information and the object’s location in Turkey. The lighting on each object is rather poor, and then the bright screen below the object blinds you. That makes the objects difficult to see and behold. Several electronic displays on the wall provide further context and visual animation.
Despite the lighting issues, the museum provides an engaging walk through Anatolian civilizations. The exhibition, called “Faces of the Throne," has gathered 316 works from 29 Turkish museums.The interior is divided into three spaces. Room one introduces prehistoric (Göbekli Tepe) and Hittite cultures. The Greco-Roman room is mostly imperial busts. The third and largest room features fine cultural objects from the Ottoman period. The exhibition does have a sizable museum shop, but all of its books were in Turkish.