OSMAN HAMDI BEY’S DREAM: ISTANBUL ARCHEOLOGY MUSEUMWhen Osman Hamdi Bey was attended as the director of the Ottoman Imperial Museum by Sultan Abdulhamit II, on September 4, 1881, Sunday, the history of Turkish museology had irreversibly changed. That’s why, it is impossible to talk about Istanbul Archeology Museum without mentioning Osman Hamdi Bey.
He was born in 1842, in Istanbul, as the son of Ibrahim Edhem Pasha, the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire. His interest in fine arts led him to take painting courses from the prominent painters in Paris, where he arrived in 1857 to have law education.
One of the first actions he took, after he had been attended as the director of the Imperial Museum was to have a new law enacted that prevents the historical artifacts, found within the borders of the empire, to be taken abroad. He organized excavations in Bergama, Mount Nemrut and Lagina Hekate Temple until 1895.
As a result of the excavations he held between 1887 and 1888, in Sidon, an ancient town located in today’s Lebanon, he reached to Necropolis of Sidon and turned back to Istanbul with many sarcophaguses, the most important of which was the world-renowned Alexander Sarcophagus. When there occurred a need for a space to exhibit the artifacts found in all the excavations, Osman Hamdi Bey asked Alexander Vallaury, an Istanbul-born French architect, to design a museum building.
Istanbul Archeology Museum, which is one of the most beautiful examples of neo-classical architecture in Istanbul, was opened on June 13, 1891, Monday. The building itself is one of the few constructions in the world, which was designed as a museum in the first place. Today, in the garden, where Istanbul Archeology Museum is located, also stand the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Kiosk Museum.
At the entrance floor of the Istanbul Archeology Museum, it is possible to see ancient sculptures from the Archaic Period to the Roman era, as well as such famous sarcophaguses as Alexander, Crying Women and Tabnit. Also, on the other floors and parts of the museum there are sections dedicated to different periods and places: "Surrounding Cultures of İstanbul", "Thrace-Bithynia and Byzantium", "İstanbul Through the Ages", "Anatolia and Troy Through the Ages", "Surrounding Cultures of Anatolia: Artifacts from Syria, Palestine and Cyprus". The museum is open every day, between 09.00 and 19.00.