Views and Boxes from The Museum Of Innocence in Istanbul

By The Museum of Innocence

Museum of Innocence


The Museum of Innocence, created by Orhan Pamuk, is a small museum of Istanbul made up of carefully assembled installations which describes the memories and meanings associated with the objects from daily life described in the author's eponymous novel. Pamuk conceived of the novel and the museum simultaneously from the very beginning, in the 1990s. The novel was published in 2008, while the museum opened in 2012. The Museum Of Innocence is both the museum of a fiction, and a little museum of "Istanbul Life" in the second half of the 20th century. A view of the floor of the Museum of Innocence. The sequence of boxes begins on the far wall across the stairwell with Box 2, “The Sanzelize Boutique,” and continues chapter by chapter along the wall at right. Visible in the image are Box 68, “4,213 Cigarette Stubs” (on the rear wall of the entrance hall on the floor below), and Box 73, “Füsun’s Driver’s License” (at the top of the stairs on the museum’s floor).

68. 4213 Cigarette Stubs 68. 4213 Cigarette StubsThe Museum of Innocence

Set between 1974 and the early 2000s, the novel The Museum of Innocence tells the story of Istanbul life from 1950 to 2000, through memories and flashbacks concerning the lives of two families, one wealthy, the other middle class.Kemal, who is from a wealthy Nişantaşı family, is due to marry Sibel, a girl from his own social class, when he falls in love with his distant relative Füsun, who works as a sales assistant in a shop. They begin to meet in dusty rooms filled with old furniture and memories.After Füsun marries someone else, Kemal spends eight years visiting her in this building, now transformed into a museum. After every visit, he takes away with him an object, which reminds him of Füsun. These objects form the collection of the Museum of Innocence.

The museum’s entrance hall. Inscribed on the floor is the time spiral that the novel develops; symbolizing
Aristotelian ideas about time as a line that connects indivisible moments.

There are exhibits on four of the museum building's five floors. Each of these four floors contains display cabinets corresponding to chapters from the novel, and carrying the same number and title as the relevant chapter.

27. Don't Lean Back That Way, You Might FallThe Museum of Innocence

27. Don’t Lean Back That Way, You Might Fall

We settled down for a picnic on a meadow looking out at the view painted in this Antoine Ignace Melling (1763-1831) landscape. I exhibit the thermos filled with tea, stuffed grape leaves, boiled eggs and some Meltem bottles to evoke our Sunday excursion that may offer the visitor some relief from the oppressive succession of interior settings, as well as my own agony. But neither the reader nor the visitor should on any account think that I could forget my pain even for an instant.

47. My Father's DeathThe Museum of Innocence

47. My Father’s Death

Every man’s death begins with the death of his father. My father’s death had turned all the familiar props of my childhood into objects of immeasurable value, each one the vessel of a lost past.

15. A Few Unpalatable Anthropological TruthsThe Museum of Innocence

15. A Few Unpalatable Anthropological Truths

In those days, even in Istanbul’s most affluent Westernized circles, a young girl who ‘gave herself’ to a man before marriage could still expect to be judged harshly and face serious consequences: If a man tried to avoid marrying the girl, and the girl in question was under eighteen years of age, an angry father might take the philanderer to court to force him to marry her. It was the custom for newspapers to run photographs with black bands over the “violated” girls’ eyes. Because the press used the same device in photographs of adulteresses, rape victims, and prostitutes, the photographs of women with black bands over their eyes were so numerous that reading a Turkish newspaper in those days was like wandering through a masquerade.

51. Happiness Means Being Close to the One You Love, That's AllThe Museum of Innocence

51. Happiness Means Being Close to the One You Love, That’s All

The mementos preserve the colors, textures, and delights as they were more faithfully, in fact, than can those who accompanied us through those moments.

40. The Consolations of Life in a YaliThe Museum of Innocence

40. The Consolations of Life in a Yalı

Yalıs are the most distinctive manifestations of what the melancholic, nostalgic writer Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar termed ‘Bosphorus civilization’; this portrait of my recollections from yalı life – the boathouses and rowing trips, the high ceilings, the enormous ships sailing so close by that it seemed as if they were passing through the living room, fishing on the shore, the food and fried mackerel on the table – is inspired by memories of 16th- 17th century Dutch still-life painting.

29. By Now There Was Hardly a Moment When I Wasn't Thinking About Her 29. By Now There Was Hardly a Moment When I Wasn't Thinking About HerThe Museum of Innocence

29. By Now There Was Hardly a Moment When I Wasn’t Thinking About Her

It has always been an aspect of human condition to unwittingly make connections, knowing full well that none exists, between a thought that suddenly crosses our minds, or an undefined turbulence in our soul, and something that we might notice happening around us at that very moment. Aristotle outlines his thoughts on this topic, later shared by Al-Farabi, in book 12 of the Metaphysics, where he discusses his famous theory of active intellect. For example, if we were traversed with an angry, hateful thought and saw, at that very moment, a bolt of lighting hitting a faraway sea, we would imagine our fury and the lighting bolt to be somehow connected. If we’re staring at the ceiling in a dark room during a power cut, lost in our thoughts, and the lamps suddenly come back on, our mind, or perhaps our imagination, will connect the light with whatever we are thinking of at that moment – like the memory of a childhood vaccination, for instance. The famous columnist Celal Salik, when writing about seeing double features at the cinema, said that whenever he felt any sort of disquiet, the film reel would snap at the same time. Ahmet Işıkçı, whom we know through his metaphysical drawings, says that Kemal’s thoughts and the intensity of his heartache have set fire to this tree.

29. By Now There Was Hardly a Moment When I Wasn't Thinking About Her Tree, From the collection of: The Museum of Innocence
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25. The Agony of WaitingThe Museum of Innocence

25. The Agony Of Waiting

In poetically well built museums, formed from the heart's compulsions, we are consoled not by finding in them old objects we love, but losing all sense of Time. Real museums are places where time is transformed into Space.

Museum of Innocence is based on the assumption
that objects used for different purposes and evocative of
the most disparate memories can, when placed side by
side, bring forth unprecedented thoughts and emotions.

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Masumiyet Müzesi - The Museum Of Innocence

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