Places to Visit: The Museum of Innocence (Masumiyet Müzesi)

The Museum of Innocence is both a novel by Orhan Pamuk and a museum he has set up. From the very beginnings of the project, since the 1990s, Pamuk has conceived of novel and museum together. The novel, which is about love, is set between 1974 and the early ’00s, and describes life in Istanbul between 1950 and 2000 through memories and flashbacks centred around two families – one wealthy, the other lower middle class. The museum presents what the novel’s characters used, wore, heard, saw, collected and dreamed of, all meticulously arranged in boxes and display cabinets. It is not essential to have read the book in order to enjoy the museum, just as it is not necessary to have visited the museum in order to fully enjoy the book. But those who have read the novel will better grasp the many connotations of the museum, and those who have visited the museum will discover many nuances they had missed when reading the book. The novel was published in 2008, the museum opened in Spring 2012.

Pamuk has established an actual “Museum of Innocence”, based on the museum described in the book. It is housed in a building in the Çukurcuma neighbourhood of Beyoğlu,Istanbul, and displays a collection evocative of everyday life and culture of Istanbul during the period in which the novel is set.[5] Originally, the museum was scheduled to be exhibited at Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle in October 2008, during the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, but the exhibition was cancelled.[6] In 2010, Pamuk still hoped that the museum would be opened in 2011.[7] After much delay, the museum was finally inaugurated in April 2012. Although created later, the museum and the novel were conceived of in tandem, displaying the obsessive romance between two Istanbul families, as well as eternalizing a perspective on upper-class Istanbul in the 1970s.[8] The project was supported by Istanbul 2010 – European Capital of Culture.[9] According to the book, the museum allows free entry to those who bring a copy of the book. A ticket placed in the 83rd chapter of the book will be stamped before ushering the reader in.

Clash between East & West[

Pamuk’s work often deals with clash of culture between East and West, which was cited as part of the reason for him being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. This novel continuously references the influence of the West (Europe and America) on Istanbul’s culture, through both the idea of museums and the film industry, which becomes a large part of the novel.

Museums and Collections[

The book, along with its accompanying museum, continuously refers to museums and collections. The idea of hoarding and collecting as a shameful act that becomes public and appreciated in the form of a museum is addressed particularly in the last chapters.

Female Identity & Turkish Culture[

One of the key themes throughout the novel is the role of the female in Turkish culture. The novel describes the ostracism of women who have lost their virginity before marriage, despite the fact that many claim to have a “more western” attitude toward this in 1970s Istanbul. Pamuk describes this as the taboo of virginity that is part of an old system in Turkey.

In an interview Pamuk blended all of these themes as he commented on how the role of the museum is also one of ownership, as Kemal looks to own Füsun as a trinket in his own museum, rather than allow her autonomy of her own life.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 10.00-18.00
Thursday: 10:00 – 21:00
Museum of Innocence will be closed only on Mondays and on January 1st and on the first days of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha every year.
You can buy your tickets from the booth on the left hand side of the entrance from Tuesday to Sunday between 10.00 – 17.30 or make a group reservation by sending an e-mail to [email protected]
Ticket Fees: Adults: 25 TL, Students: 10 TL, Annual Unlimited Pass: 100 TL
The ticket printed in the closing pages of Orhan Pamuk’s novel The Museum of Innocence can be stamped at the ticket office in exchange for an invitation to the museum.
Audio Guide in Turkish and English: 5 TL per visitor
Please note that only the ground floor of the museum is wheelchair ccessible.