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Since 2004, Istanbul Modern, housed in a former antrepo (warehouse) by the waterside in Karaköy/Tophane, has become an institution in a city devoid of publicly-funded modern art museums. With a strong permanent collection of 20th-century Turkish art, it also hosts world-class temporary exhibitions. A separate photography gallery and a rich cinema programme spanning diverse genres and countries add to the museum’s appeal. The antrepo next door is the main venue for the city’s biennials. The views from the galleries and the restaurant are quite simply jaw-dropping – provided a cruiseliner is not moored in front.
Istanbul Modern is such a suave, confident place – it is a shock to think that it is an entirely private creation, and pays a nice rent to the national maritime lines. Turkey is one of the few countries in the world not to have a national gallery, let alone a national modern art gallery.
The collection itself is mainly Turkish of respectable pedigree. It is hung on the first floor, the entrance to the museum, reached by a long ramp. Exhibitions are downstairs on the ground floor, along with the cinema, photography gallery and art book library.
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