The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts has the unique distinction of being both the last museum to be opened in the era of the Ottoman Empire and also the first Turkish museum to bring together Turkish and Islamic art works.
After the declaration of the Turkish Republic, the museum was renamed as ‘The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts’, and in 1983 it was moved from the Sulemaniye Alms house to its current location in the Ibrahim Pasha Palace. The palace is one of the most important buildings of 16th century Ottoman civil architecture. It is situated in Istanbul’s famous historical site, the Hippodrome, rising up over its old tiers. Ibrahim Pasha Palace was renovated by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1520 and bestowed on his son-in-law and vizier, Ibrahim Pasha. As well as being the palace of the vizier, in certain periods it also functioned as a ‘Spectator Palace’. In 1530, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent watched the circumcision festivities of princes Mustafa, Mehmed and Selim from the oriel of Ibrahim Pasha Palace.
The collections of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are extremely diverse, hosting a vast selection of works from the earliest period of Islamic art up to the 20th century, including items from the Umayyad, Abbasid, North African (Moorish), Andalusian, Fatimid, Seljuk, Ayyubid, Ilkhanid, Mamluk, Timurid and Safavid dynasties, the beylik and Ottoman periods and from various countries of the Caucasus. In addition to this, the records kept by religious foundations, stating where most of the works came from, make this collection an invaluable historical testimonial.
Many sections of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts are rich enough to constitute a museum all on their own. These are the carpet, manuscript, wood, glass-metal-ceramic and ethnography sections.
The Ethnography section of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts houses collections containing different aspects of Ottoman social life from more recent history, from the 18/19th century to the first half of the 20th century. A substantial textile collection, together with comprehensive collections related to important institutions of social life, such as the hammam, coffee and Karagöz shadow plays, have been collated through field research. The ‘Istanbul Women’s Clothing’ collection and various items reflecting the life of the Turkish populace make this a fascinating section.