Sakip Sabanci Museum is located in Emirgan, one of the most beautiful districts of the Bosphorus. Serving in a historical mansion, the museum occasionally displays the most important painting collections in the world. For example, the works of world-famous Spanish painter Salvador Dali were introduced to the visitors in the exhibition titled “A Surrealist in Istanbul”.
Sabanci, one of the leading families in Turkey’s business world, is in the management of the museum. In the 2000s, with the progress in tourism, many museums were opened in Istanbul. In this period, Koc, Sabanci and Eczacibasi holdings opened museums one after another. Each of these museums has been very successful in its own field and has contributed to the cultural life of Istanbul.
In this article, you can find information about the history of Sabanci Museum and the artifacts exhibited in it. In addition, Sakip Sabanci Museum entrance fee and visiting hours are noted.
History of Sakip Sabanci Museum
The history of Sakip Sabanci Museum dates back to 2002. Although SSM is a young museum, it is among the most visited museums in Istanbul.
The main building of the museum was built in 1925 by the Italian architect Edoardo De Nari. The mansion was bought by Sabanci, one of the leading families of the Turkish industry, in 1951 and was redecorated.
The most important thing added to the building during the decoration was the horse statues in the garden. Because one of these sculptures is an exact copy of the bronze sculptures that adorned the Hippodrome of Constantinople during the Byzantine period.
During the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Constantinople, the most prosperous city of the Middle Ages, was looted and its precious treasures were taken to Italy. Among these precious works were 4 bronze horse statues that adorned the Hippodrome. These statues are now in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. Today, these horses are referred to as Horses of Saint Mark in online encyclopedias.
Sakip Sabanci, one of the famous members of the Sabanci family, lived in this house for a long time. During the years Sakip Sabanci lived in the mansion, the art collection in the house also expanded. Later, this collection of calligraphy and paintings was donated to Sabanci University.
After it was decided to turn the mansion into a museum, some modern additions were made to the building and it was put into service as the Sakip Sabanci Museum in 2002.
Things to See in Sakip Sabanci Museum
Things to see in the Sakip Sabanci Museum give us the chance to observe how culture and art evolved over time in the Ottoman Empire.
It would be more accurate to visit the museum starting from the “Book Arts and Calligraphy Collections” section and then to see the “Painting Collection” and “Furniture Collection” sections to get an idea about the classical and modern periods of the Ottoman Empire.
1. Book Arts and Calligraphy Collection
The Book Arts and Calligraphy Collection forms the core of the museum. The collection first started when Sakip Sabanci bought a calligraphy written by Sultan Mahmud II and grew over time.
The reason why I recommend you give priority to this section while visiting the museum is because the manuscripts and calligraphy works in this section refer to the classical period of the Ottoman Empire.
The “Manuscript Books” you will see while visiting the museum were once the most valuable collection items of wealthy people. These books, which were covered with special bindings, were written by a master scribe and kept like a treasure.
Calligraphy was a very prestigious profession in the Ottoman period. The sultans were personally trained on this subject. So much so that the sultans would decorate the mosques, palaces and fountains they had built with their own calligraphy works. You can see the reflections of this cultural heritage from the Ottoman Empire at the Sakip Sabanci Museum.
2. Painting Collection
The Painting Collection contains important examples of early Turkish painting. As it is known, the art of painting did not develop much in the first years of the Ottoman Empire.
In the mosques, palaces and tombs built by the Ottomans, calligraphy, tile making and pencil works came to the fore. The art of painting began to rise only in the last century of the Ottoman Empire.
Especially after the 1850s, when the Ottoman throne was moved to Dolmabahce Palace, the art of painting was supported by the sultans. During this period, many Western painters lived in Istanbul and worked as palace painters.
Starting from the 1970s, Sakip Sabanci collected some of the paintings made in the last period of the Ottoman Empire. The collection he created also reflects the influence of Westernization in Ottoman art.
As someone who has been a tourist guide in Istanbul for many years, I believe that the painter who best introduced this city was Fausto Zonaro. In this section, you can see the paintings of Fausto Zonaro, who was a palace painter for the Ottoman Empire, as well as many other valuable painters.
3. Furniture and Decorative Works Collection
The Furniture and Decorative Works Collection allows us to witness the cultural transformation of the Ottoman Empire in history, as in the other sections.
From the end of the 1700s, the westernization movement had begun in the Ottoman Empire. This trend, which started with Sultan Mahmud II, reached its peak during the reign of Sultan Abdulmejid.
The most magnificent vases, chandeliers and furniture of the 1800s can be seen in Dolmabahce Palace, which was built by Sultan Abdulmejid.
Sakip Sabanci was inspired by the baroque, rococo and neo-classical styles that were fashionable in the late Ottoman period in the decoration of his mansion.
While visiting this part of the museum, you can see the same furniture and decoration items used by the Ottoman sultans and the leading families of Istanbul in the 19th century.
4. Abidin Dino Archive
Abidin Dino Archive includes the artist’s drawings, sketches and plans for his sculptures.
Abidin Dino, as the most important Turkish painter of the 20th century, used all the developments of the 1900s as a source of inspiration for his works. He had immortalized this period in his works, when world wars took place and human life was radically changed.
Abidin Dino’s contributions to art were not limited to painting. He was also a cartoonist, writer and director. You can find many memories about Abidin Dino, a versatile figure in Turkish art history, at the Sakip Sabanci Museum.
5. Emirgan Archive
Emirgan Archive contains many nostalgic items about Emirgan, one of the most beautiful districts of the Bosphorus.
In this section of the museum, you can see many photographs of daily life in Emirgan since the early 1900s. These photos, which include wooden mansions, ferries and seaside palaces in Emirgan, will make you travel back in time.
6. Horse Statues
The Horse Statues in the garden of the Sakip Sabanci Museum are historical artifacts in their own right. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, one of the two sculptures is an exact copy of the bronze sculptures that adorned the entrance of the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the most important arena of the Byzantine Empire.
The other sculpture was made by the French sculptor Louis Doumas in Paris in 1864. This horse statue, which adorned the mansion of Abraham Pasha, one of the top bureaucrats of the Ottoman period, was later bought by the Sabanci family.
Muzedechanga Restaurant is a place that makes your visit to the Sakip Sabanci Museum even more enjoyable. Because when you get tired of exploring the museum, you can eat something with the Bosphorus view.
Sakip Sabanci Museum Entrance Fee
Sakip Sabanci Museum entrance fee is 50 Turkish Liras. Discounted tickets for Istanbul Museum Pass holders and visitors over 60 are 35 Turkish Liras. Student ticket price is 25 TL.
Sakip Sabanci Museum Opening Hours
Sakip Sabanci Museum opening hours are between 10:00 in the morning and 18:00 in the evening. On Wednesdays, which is the public day, it is open until 20:00. The museum is closed to visitors on Mondays.
The visiting hours of the museums in Istanbul may change depending on the events and renovations. Before going to the museum, I suggest you visit the official website of the museum and review the latest situation.
How to Get to The Museum?
Sakip Sabanci Museum is located in Emirgan district on the Bosphorus shore. In order to get to the museum from Sultanahmet, you can first go to Kabatas by tram. From Kabatas, you can take the buses going in the direction of Emirgan and get off at Emirgan Cinaralti Station.
In order to get to the museum from Taksim Square, you can take the buses going in the direction of Emirgan or Sariyer and get off at Emirgan Cinaralti Station.
For visitors who want to come to the museum by private vehicle, the museum has its own parking lot with a capacity of 30 vehicles. If the parking lot is full, you can easily park your private car along the coastal road.
Written by Serhat Engul