ISTANBUL MODERN OPENS IN NEW LANDMARK BUILDING DESIGNED BY RENZO PIANO
Across 10,500 square meters, the new Istanbul Modern provides a purpose-built space for a dynamic range of temporary exhibitions, interdisciplinary educational programs, film screenings, and an extensive, publicly accessible art collection. Spanning the period from 1945 to the present, the collection features works by international artists who reflect Türkiye’s artistic creativity and have played an active role in the global transformation of art.
The design of the building, Renzo Piano’s first project in Türkiye, was inspired by the glittering waters of the Bosphorus and its reflections of light. Echoing the history of a site that has been used as a harbor for millennia, the outline of the building evokes ships of different sizes traveling back and forth between Europe and Asia as well as a creature of the sea that has leapt from the Bosphorus on the shore. The façade is made by a sequence of 3-D-formed aluminum panels that play with the changing sunlight, creating a shimmering, iridescent envelope evocative of fish scales.
Upon arrival, the transparent ground floor offers views to the waterfront promenade and houses the museum library, education and event spaces, digital touchscreens, a café, and a museum shop featuring new collections of objects inspired by the museum’s exhibitions. Richard Wentworth’s “False Ceiling” (2005), one of the iconic permanent installations from the former building, welcomes back visitors. A wide central stairway connecting the public areas of the museum features a three-part site-specific installation by Olafur Eliasson commissioned specifically for the new museum building by Istanbul Modern. Titled “Your unexpected journey” (2021), the installation appears to hang in the air, playing with light and the visitors’ sense of space.
The building’s first floor is home to the photography gallery, pop-up gallery, event spaces, education rooms, and staff offices. Istanbul Modern’s restaurant is also on this floor and offers spectacular views of the Bosphorus and Historical Peninsula from an outdoor terrace. The second floor houses the museum’s permanent collection gallery, which provides an unparalleled panorama of modern and contemporary art from Türkiye and beyond, as well as the main temporary exhibition gallery.
The museum also boasts a 156-seat auditorium for the museum’s celebrated film programs and interdisciplinary events. A one-of-a-kind viewing terrace at the top of the building hovers above a shallow reflection pool covering the entire roof, providing a 360-degree view of the Bosphorus and the city. The new building’s transparent and accessible design reflects the ethos of the museum: a multifaceted experience offering visitors audience-oriented exhibitions and programs inspired by the artistic diversity of the present day.