Ara Guler was Turkey’s most passionate photographer. Ara Guler discovered the famous ancient city of Aphrodisias during a photography trip. Guler is also the first name that comes to mind when it comes to nostalgic Istanbul photographs. In this article, you can find information about Ara Guler Photography Museum, which was opened a few months before the famous photographer passed away.
Ara Guler Photography Museum is located in Sisli district of Istanbul, famous for its shopping malls, hotels and business centers. There are world-famous chain hotels in Sisli, one of the most central districts of Istanbul.
Ara Guler Museum is located in Sisli’s event center called Bomontiada. Besides the museum, Bomontiada has many famous restaurants and bars. For example, Babylon, one of Istanbul’s most famous bars, is also here. Originally an old brewery, Bomontiada is one of the city’s most successful urban transformation projects.
Before talking about the Ara Guler Museum, we will talk about the life story of the famous photographer. Guler, who is among the members of Magnum Photos, lived in the years when the art of photography was very productive.
Who is Ara Guler?
Originally named as Aram Guleryan, Ara Guler was born in Beyoglu in 1928. It can be said that his father, Dacat Guler, was the main initiator of his interest in art and photography. After realizing that his son was interested in cinema and photography, Dacat Guler gave him a 35mm cinematograph and a camera as a gift.
During his high school years, Ara Guler attended drama courses of the famous actor Muhsin Ertugrul. He improved himself in the field of photography with the camera his father gave as a gift, and then he started working for a local newspaper called “New Istanbul”.
Although Ara Guler started a department in the field of economics at Istanbul University, he realized that he actually wanted to be a journalist. This choice would change his life and make Guler one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.
Ara Guler described himself as a journalist rather than an art photographer in his whole career. He achieved to frame lots of things about 20th century from old Istanbul streets to portraits of famous people such as Winston Churchill, Maria Callas, John Berger and Pablo Picasso in his career.
Guler’s Career in Photography
Guler’s career dates back to 1953, the year he met with Henri Cartier Bresson. He was accepted to Magnum Photos with Bresson’s support at that year. As one of the most important photography agencies, Magnum Photos was a huge opportunity for Guler and he became internationally famous with the works he produced there.
Ara Guler attracted English Photography Annual Anthology’s attention and he was selected as “One of the world’s top seven photographers” by this important magazine in the field of photography. In 1953, he became the only Turkish member of American Society of Magazine Photographers.
As a productive and hardworking individual, Ara Guler worked as near-east newspaper photographer in Time-Life, Paris-Match, Der Stern and while he was the department chief of photography in “Hayat” magazine.
From 1950’s onward, he held exhibitions in cities such as New York and Paris and his photographs drew heavy attention. He earned the title of “Master of Leica”, a rare title, in Germany in 1962. The same year, “Camera” Magazine, published in Switzerland and regarded as one of the most important publications in the field of photography, dedicated a special issue to him.
Guler’s fame was exceeding Europe in those years. In 1967, Photography of the World, published in Japan, included the collaborative works of Guler and Richard Avedon in its anthology. In 1968, an exhibition called “Ten Masters of Color Photography”, held in New York Modern Art Gallery, included his works. The same year, in Photokina Fair, held in Koln, his works were exhibited. In the early 1970s, he focused on art and art history. In those years, his works were used in Newsweek and Skira Publishing, located in Switzerland.
The photo interview he did with Picasso in 1971 is regarded as one of his most important achievements in his career. He did this interview for the book called “Picasso Metomorphose et Unite”, a dedication by Skira Publishing to Picasso for his 90th birthday. Although Picasso did not enjoy posing for the cameras, he accepted the offer after Ara Guler insisted.
The following year, his works were displayed in his private exhibition, held in Paris National Library. Upon a special invite he went to the US to photograph many famous Americans, and his works were exhibited in many parts of the world under the name of “Creative Americans”. At the same year, he returned to Turkey and shot a documentary called “Kahramanin Sonu” (The End of the Hero) that mentions about dismantling of “Yavuz” battleship.
Ara Guler became an important character in promoting and shaping the perception of Turkey to the world through his works. His photographs were used in Mariana Noris’ book called “Young Turkey” in 1964. His photograph album called “Turkei” was published in Germany in 1970. He photographed the book called Mimar Sinan written by Prof. Abdullah Kuran in 1986 and that book was published as English by “Institute of Turkish Studies” in 1987.
Ara Guler Photography Museum
Ara Guler Photography Museum was opened in 2018 on the artist’s 90th birthday. Museum includes great deal of works of Ara Guler and his personal belongings such as his notes, press credentials, collections and books.
It is possible to see the old days of Istanbul in the Ara Guler museum. Approximately 20 million people live in Istanbul, which has rapidly become urbanized in the last 50 years. Ara Guler’s photographs reflect the nostalgic days when Istanbul preserved its neighborhood culture.
Ara Guler Museum Entrance Fee 2021
Ara Guler Museum is a non-profit institution and has no entrance fee. Also, you can enjoy free activities such as film screening, conversations, panel discussions and free places such as archive and research center.
Ara Guler Museum Opening Hours 2021
Ara Guler Museum opening hours are between 10:00 and 18:00. On Sundays, it is open from 12:00 to 18:00. Please also note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
Visiting times of museums in Istanbul may change due to events and renovations. Before going to the museum, I recommend you to visit the official website of the museum and review the latest situation.
How to Get to The Museum?
The museum is located in a culture and art center called Bomontiada in the Sisli district of Istanbul. In order to get to the Ara Guler Photography Museum, you need to walk 15-20 minutes to Bomontiada direction after you get off in Osmanbey Metro Station.
The museum is located very close to Taksim Square, one of the most touristic places in Istanbul. You can reach Sisli in just a few minutes by metro from Taksim Square. On the other hand, those who want to come from Sultanahmet can go to Yenikapi Terminal (next to Aksaray Tram Station) and reach Sisli by M2 metro.
Ara Guler Photography Museum by Serhat Engul