The Road Less Travelled: Getting Arty Farty at the Pera Museum (Istanbul)
In the hopelessly trendy district of Beyoğlu is a private gallery known as the Pera Museum. The Pera is worth a look if you’re an art aficionado, but also if you have a few hours to kill before your lunch reservation or you’re just eager escape the winter cold/summer heat.
The museum is housed in the former Hotel Bristol, a beautiful historic Ottoman-Greek relic built by architect Achille Manoussos in 1893. The building was renovated between 2003 and 2005 thanks to funds from the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation: the exterior façade was restored and the interior transformed into a four-story modern museum.
Three permanent collections are on display at Pera: Turkish (Anatolian) weights and measures, tiles and ceramics from Kütahya in western Turkey, and an impressive array of Orientalist art. There are several hundred paintings of this nature that include beautiful Ottoman-inspired works by European artists from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Aside from their permanent collection, the Pera Museum cycles through interesting temporary exhibitions that feature the work of old masters, as well as their contemporary and eclectic counterparts.
Like any other museum, the Pera has become something of a cultural hub. Aside from exhibitions there are also art catalogues, books and audio-visual events on offer, as well as education programs for youth. What looked pretty cool (and something I’d do if I lived in Istanbul) are the Pera Film evenings where movies (classics, indie flicks, animated shorts and documentaries) are screened for film buffs.
There’s also a small and cozy café (Pera Café) on the ground floor of the museum that serves up drinks and snacks with a variety of sides, sweet nothings and hot and cold beverages – alcohol included – to choose from. While you’ll be tempted to go all out at the café, I’d spend more time enjoying the art (and maybe an espresso) and then head over to Auf for one of the best lunches you’ll have in Istanbul.
Art + design + food…my kind of afternoon.
Meşrutiyet Caddesi No.65
34443 Tepebaşı – Beyoğlu – İstanbul
Tel. + 90 212 334 99 00
Open → Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00 – 19.00
Sunday: 12.00 – 18.00