Older gentlemen read newspapers here as they sip their tea. They pay for neither the tea nor the cookies that accompany it. The neighborhood’s fish restaurants, the boats bobbing near the museum and the cool sea breeze give you the feeling of being in a seaside town. The conversation deepens as hot tea is served to the visitors, who seem very content. Their meeting place, the Bakırköy Arts Center and City Museum, opened a few months ago and features in its four-storey building a cafe, a library, a lounge and an exhibition hall, as well as the city museum.
The building which houses the museum once belonged to a wealthy Rum (ethnic Greek) family. However, the house collapsed over time and became a ruin. Motivated by the criticism that İstanbul lacks city museums, the Bakırköy Municipality rebuilt the house in accordance with its original plan and architecture. Bakırköy residents supported the project by donating objects and documents associated with the history of the area. The new facility is visually appealing, commodious and appeals to people of all ages. Using the “Bakkart,” a card designed by the Bakırköy Municipality for the residents of Bakırköy, one can enjoy tea and delicious cookies free of charge at the museum, which the municipality hopes will encourage people to visit. Also available at the museum is a computer which Bakırköy residents can use to connect to the municipality and it services online.
‘My dream of having a city museum became a reality!’
Researcher and writer Turgay Tuna is the author of many books on the history of Bakırköy and long dreamed of opening a city museum in the district. He mentioned his idea to Bakırköy Mayor Ateş Ünal Erzen. Tuna received an affirmative response from the municipality, and began working on the museum, deciding to donate a part of his own collection to form the core of its holdings and became the museum’s curator. Numerous other residents of Bakırköy also donated their belongings of historical relevance to the district to build the museum’s collection.
The museum now boasts a large collection of historical objects and documents, including photos of Bakırköy and Yeşilköy, old identity cards, historical documents, musical instruments, school diplomas from the Ottoman period and more than 100 objects belonging to the neighborhood’s minority (non-Muslim) citizens.