Authors’ House Museums in Türkiye

Samet Çevik (Bandirma Onyedi Eylül Üniversity, Türkiye)

Türkiye is home to authors’ house museums located in various cities, with Istanbul particularly standing out. These museums are specifically established to safeguard the legacies of literary figures who have made remarkable and enduring contributions to Turkish literature.

Aşiyan Museum, the first literary museum of Türkiye, was inaugurated on August 19, 1945, in Istanbul. The house was the project of Tevfik Fikret (1867-1915), a prominent figure in Turkish poetry, and it was constructed in 1906, serving as the poet’s residence until his passing. In 2010, the restoration process began in the museum to bring it back to its original condition during Fikret’s period. Extensive and meticulous research was conducted to restore the house to its state from a hundred years ago, utilising the poet’s own photographs, writings about the house from that era, and advanced technology. The museum’s adoption of an interpretation policy that aims to restore the house to its original condition as closely as possible, both in terms of the building and the displayed objects, allows literary tourists to meet their authenticity expectations, visualise that the author lived there, and witness a particular period. (Çevik, 2022). The museum offers personal guidance and audio guide services to its visitors. The museum, known for hosting numerous artistic and cultural events, emphasises its educational role, regularly collaborating with various educational institutions to conduct programs. In addition to hosting various groups such as photography clubs and book reading groups, the museum is visited by foreign tourists, in addition to domestic tourists, due to its location advantages. It is included in literary tours (Çevik, 2021).

Adam Mickiewicz Museum, located in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, stands out as the sole foreign authors’ house museum in Türkiye, honouring Poland’s National Poet Adam Mickiewicz, who once resided there. This historical house served as the poet’s residence when he arrived in Istanbul in 1855 to examine the plight of Polish refugees in the Ottoman Empire and support Türkiye during the Crimean War. In collaboration with the Polish Ministry of Culture and Art, the house was transformed into a museum in 1955, marking the 100th anniversary of the poet’s death. The museum aims to portray the poet’s life within his time's political and cultural context. Following the restoration carried out in 2014, the museum primarily contains information boards, kiosks, and installations. Visitors can tear off the poems of Adam Mickiewicz, written in Turkish, Polish, and English, from notepads shaped like calendar pages hanging on the wall in the museum and take them with them (İnan, 2018).

Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum, situated in Burgazada, Istanbul, has been a literary museum since 1959. Sait Faik Abasıyanık (1906-1954), a prominent figure in Turkish literature known for his mastery of short stories, resided in this house starting from 1938, where he penned numerous of his renowned works. With a specific emphasis on the author, the museum took a selective approach during the design phase, excluding various objects from the exhibition and opting to showcase exclusively original belongings and documents associated with Sait Faik. The museum benefits from a strong authenticity advantage as it serves as the author’s residence and displays items that belong to the author. In the design of the two rooms on the top floor, the aim was to establish an emotional connection between visitors and the author. One of these rooms is themed as “Sait Faik's Burgazada”, showcasing excerpts from the author’s stories about the island, his original fishing equipment, and his famous hat. The other room is designed with the concept of the “Letter Room”, where visitors also have the opportunity to write a letter to Sait Faik (Çevik, 2018). Because of the author’s strong association with Burgazada, the museum is a highly desired attraction for every visitor to the island. Furthermore, it stands out as one of the most frequently visited literary museums in Türkiye due to the widespread recognition of Sait Faik Abasıyanık.

Yahya Kemal Museum was established in 1961 to commemorate Yahya Kemal Beyatlı (1884-1958), one of the renowned representatives of Turkish poetry. it is located in the historic building of Kara Mustafa Pasha Madrasa in the Fatih district of Istanbul. The museum showcases the rich literary heritage of Yahya Kemal and his contributions to Turkish poetry. Since Yahya Kemal spent the final two decades of his life in a hotel, there is no direct affiliation between him and the building. Nonetheless, through meticulous effort, personal documents associated with him were collected and combined with his belongings from the hotel room to create the museum collection. University students volunteer at the museum, providing personal guidance services to literary tourists in Turkish and foreign languages (Çevik, 2021).

Orhan Kemal Museum, opened in 2000 in the Cihangir district of Istanbul by Orhan Kemal’s son, the writer Işık Öğütçü, aims to preserve the literary legacy of Orhan Kemal (1914-1970), one of the leading authors in Turkish literature known for his works primarily in the genre of novels. Although the house has no direct connection to Orhan Kemal, all the exhibited objects belong to him and his family members. A notable aspect that sets the museum apart is the personal guidance provided by Işık Öğütçü, who leads visitors through the house. This offers literary tourists a valuable opportunity to directly experience and gain insights into his father’s life, memories, and literary journey. In the Ikbal Cafe, which is affiliated with the museum and located beneath it, visitors can purchase all of the author’s works, and they can also engage in conversations with Işık Öğütçü to receive detailed information about the museum and Orhan Kemal (Çevik, 2021).

Since 2010, Kemal Tahir Museum has been hosted in the apartment in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, where the distinguished Turkish novelist Kemal Tahir (1910-1973) resided during the final decade of his life. The museum proudly exhibits a remarkable collection, encompassing the author's manuscripts, work desk, typewriter, an impressive assortment of nearly ten thousand books, and an array of personal belongings. The typewriter of the esteemed Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet, along with the letters they exchanged with the author, are treasured items within this collection (İnan, 2018).

After undergoing restoration and landscaping, the Taceddin Dervish Convent, where Mehmet Âkif Ersoy, the renowned Turkish poet (1873-1936), stayed upon his arrival in Ankara to join the national struggle in 1920, was transformed into the Mehmet Âkif Ersoy House Museum in 2009. This significant location served as the birthplace of many of his poems, including the national anthem of the Republic of Turkey, the “İstiklal Marşı” (Independence March). The museum faithfully captures the era’s ambience, featuring wax figures, the poet’s poems, manuscripts, and photographs. The conversion of Mehmet Âkif's former residence into a cultural house has turned it into a place where the spirit of the National Struggle era lives, making it one of the most frequently visited places in Ankara (Kurtoğlu, 2015).

Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House, situated in the Urla district of Izmir and established in 2001, is named after the distinguished writer, poet, and playwright Necati Cumalı, renowned for his significant contributions to 20th-century Turkish literature. Most of the items displayed in the house belong to Necati Cumalı himself. An outstanding aspect of the house is that all visitors are guided through personal interpretation, providing information about the author’s life, works, and the exhibited objects. In the museum, which hosts various events such as author commemoration activities, photo exhibitions, and poetry recitals, there is also a public library on the ground floor that contains various reference books (Çevik, 2018). Namık Kemal House, situated in Tekirdağ province, was established in 1993 to honour the memory of Namık Kemal (1840-1888), an esteemed Turkish writer, poet, playwright, and journalist born in the same city. Due to the inability to preserve Namık Kemal's birthplace, the house was constructed as a three-story wooden house, following the architectural style of Tekirdağ's wooden houses and carrying traces of 18th and 19th-century Ottoman architecture. The primary objective of the literary place is to uphold Namık Kemal's personal, literary, and political legacy while simultaneously exhibiting the traditional culture of Tekirdağ. In this context, Namık Kemal House serves as an ethno-literary museum. Another authors’ house museum that functions as an ethnic-literary museum is Rıfat Ilgaz Cultural and Art House in the Cide district of Kastamonu province. In 2007, the birthplace of Rıfat Ilgaz (1911-1993), a celebrated figure in Turkish literature renowned for his works in the genres of novels, poetry, play, and short story, was meticulously restored to its original state and made accessible to visitors. The first striking element upon entering the house is a table adorned with “yellow scarves”, a cherished tradition still upheld by the women of Cide and lent its name to Rıfat Ilgaz’s autobiographical novel. The yellow scarves and other ethnographic values of Cide accompany Rıfat Ilgaz’s life story, told through his belongings in the museum (Çevik, 2019).

The house in the Reyhanlı district of Hatay province, where the Turkish writer, translator, and sociologist Cemil Meriç (1916-1987) was born, was expropriated in 2014 and transformed into a museum, preserving its architectural structure. Cemil Meriç Museum presents the chronological life story of Cemil Meriç and his family, along with the conditions he experienced, through a diverse collection of his works. The historical building, constructed in the early 1900s, holds cultural heritage value and serves as a literary heritage site by commemorating the memory of Cemil Meriç, who made significant contributions to Turkish literature (Balkan & Bahadırlı, 2023). Similarly, in the Diyarbakır province, two other culturally significant buildings are used to pass down Türkiye’s literary heritage to future generations. One of them is the childhood home of Turkish poet, writer, and translator Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı (1910-1956), which was converted into the Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı House Culture Museum in 1974. Dating back to 1733, the house showcases the ethnographic values depicting life in 19th-century Diyarbakır and the author’s belongings, manuscripts, works, photographs, and documents. The other museum in Diyarbakır is the house where the famous Turkish writer, poet, sociologist, and politician Ziya Gökalp (1876-1924) spent his childhood and youth. This historic house, originally built in 1806, was converted into the Ziya Gökalp Museum in 1956. The museum exhibits a collection of personal belongings, documents, and examples of works associated with Ziya Gökalp (Aliağaoğlu & Narlı, 2012).

The house where Turkish folk poet Âşık Veysel Şatıroğlu (1894-1973), who is one of the most significant figures in the minstrelsy tradition, resided in his later years and where he passed away, has been functioning as a museum since 1982. Âşık Veysel Museum, situated in the village of Sivrialan, in the Şarkışla district of Sivas province, houses a collection entirely dedicated to the poet's personal belongings and works (Özen, 2009). Exhibiting the poet’s extensive collection of personal items, records, books, and his iconic musical instrument not only fulfils visitors’ expectations of authenticity but also enables them to forge an emotional connection and immerse themselves in nostalgia, becoming closely linked with the poet. In 2012, the museum underwent restoration and was redesigned following modern museum principles. In this restoration, an additional building was constructed for the museum. The transition from the museum’s old building to the newly constructed extension is facilitated through a dark room. This dark room is designed for literary tourists to experience the dark world of the visually impaired poet Âşık Veysel. This dark room is one of the museum's most intriguing and attention-grabbing sections. In this new section, featuring stylish and straightforward designs, information is conveyed visually and audibly using technology. Additionally, panels are prepared in the Braille alphabet for visually impaired visitors (Çevik & Aydoğdu Atasoy, 2023).

Mevlâna Museum in Konya province, Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli Museum in Nevşehir province, and Yunus Emre Museum in Eskişehir province are museums established for literary figures who lived in a distant past and hold international significance While these museums possess literary characteristics due to the literary works of these figures, they are primarily associated with religious tourism and event tourism (Aliağaoğlu & Narlı, 2012). In 2021, the Sabahattin Ali Memorial House was inaugurated in Edremit, Balıkesir, serving as the most recent addition to the authors’ house museums in Türkiye. This house, where the writer spent his formative years, allows visitors to discover the author's personal possessions, photographs, and excerpts from his works, granting a deeper understanding of his life story and literary odyssey.

These authors’ house museums, which play a vital role in preserving the literary legacies of prominent literary figures who have left their mark on Turkish literature, also showcase Türkiye’s rich potential in literary tourism.

How to cite this dictionary entry: Çevik, S. (2023). Authors’ House Museums in Türkiye. In R. Baleiro, G. Capecchi & J. Arcos-Pumarola (Orgs.). E-Dictionary of Literary Tourism. University for Foreigners of Perugia.

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