Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum (Kahramanmaraş, Türkiye)

Samet Çevik (Bandirma Onyedi Eylül Üniversity, Türkiye)

The Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum, situated in Kahramanmaraş, Türkiye, is housed in a historic building from 1882. Initially established by American missionaries as the Central Turkey College for Girls, the institution underwent a series of transformations over the years. Following the Treaty of Lausanne, the college temporarily closed its doors, only to reopen in 1933 as the first educational institution in the province of Maraş. Throughout its history, the institution, which later became known as Maraş High School (1945-1965), played a significant role in shaping the intellectual landscape of the city (Polat, 2021). Renowned poets and authors, collectively referred to as the Seven Beautiful Men, including Nuri Pakdil (1934-2019), Mehmet Akif İnan (1940-2000), Rasim Özdenören (1940-2022), Alaeddin Özdenören (1940-2003), Adil Erdem Bayazıt (1939-2008), Ali Kutlay (1940-2008), and Cahit Zarifoğlu (1940-1987), also graduated from this esteemed high school. In 2019, after undergoing a restoration process initiated by the Kahramanmaraş Metropolitan Municipality, the historical building was unveiled as the Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum.

The Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum was established to indicate the significant contribution of the poets and authors from Kahramanmaraş, who are recognised as the “Maraş Ecole”, to the rich tapestry of Turkish literary history. Within the museum, the literary figures and their works are showcased utilizing a range of mediums including interactive kiosks, projection devices, voice-overs, video-film technologies, wax figure recreations, as well as an extensive collection of objects and documents (Kahramanmaraş Metropolitan Municipality, 2021). Visitors can explore the museum through a virtual tour available on the Kahramanmaraş Metropolitan Municipality website (Kahramanmaraş Metropolitan Municipality, 2021).

As per the categorization of literary museums by the ICOM International Committee for Literary and Composers’ Museums (2019), The Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum is classified as a general literary museum. General literary museums focus on literature from specific geographical regions, distinct literary genres, or literature as a whole, encompassing the written and spoken word. These museums may also encompass institutions that curate specialised collections of books and manuscripts, consistently presenting them with museological approaches. While the museum draws its name from the seven literary figures, its scope extends beyond them. It delves into significant periods in Turkish literary history and showcases influential literary figures. Furthermore, the museum boasts a diverse collection that features exemplary works from different eras.

The Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum comprises divisions including a museum section, an exhibition hall, a conference hall, and library sections. The museum section is divided into three separate parts. Within the Digital Screen Room situated on the museum’s first floor, visitors have access to information regarding the historical context of the museum building as well as general details about the museum itself. The Literature History room showcases Turkish Literature’s different periods sequentially on expansive visual panels.

The exhibition commences by delving into the oral and written literature of pre-Islamic Turkish Literature. It encompasses significant periods in Turkish Literature such as Turkish Literature influenced by Islam, Divan Literature, Turkish Folk Literature, Tanzimat Literature, Servet-i Fünun Literature, Fecr-i Ati Literature, the National Literature Period, and the Beş Hececiler movement, ensuring a chronological presentation. This exhibition highlights the prominent literary figures and their works from each literary period, providing literary tourists with the opportunity to learn about these individuals through visual and auditory mediums, as well as wax figure displays. Furthermore, the exhibition presents a dedicated section titled “Footsteps of Turkish Literature”, where the first examples of works in various genres of Turkish Literature are showcased.

Located on the museum’s second floor, there are exclusive sections that greatly enhance the museum experience for literary tourists. These sections include a room dedicated to viewing the documentary film Seven Beautiful Men, an installation room, and an interactive poetry room. On the second floor, there is a specific part devoted to the Turkish Literature of the Republic Era, which seamlessly follows the chronological progression of Turkish Literature. This section highlights renowned literary figures who left their mark in genres such as novels, short stories, essays, theatre, and poetry during this period. Furthermore, the exhibition incorporates literary magazines that were published during this era. This floor of the museum comprises expansive exhibition areas that prominently showcase wax figure displays dedicated to four members of the Seven Beautiful Men literary group: Alaeddin Özdenören, Rasim Özdenören, Mehmet Akif İnan, and Erdem Bayazıt. Within these exhibition spaces, visitors can become acquainted with the literary personas of these authors, listen to their poems in their authentic voices, and explore their literary works.

The exhibition areas devoted to the remaining three figures of the Seven Beautiful Men literary group, namely Ali Kutlay, Nuri Pakdil, and Cahit Zarifoğlu, are located on the museum's third floor. Cahit Zarifoğlu is introduced as the harbinger of the Seven Beautiful Men, as this literary group derived its name from the title of one of his poems. The theme of this museum floor is the poets and writers from Kahramanmaraş. In addition to the literary figures that make up the Seven Beautiful Men, there are thematic decors created for prominent Turkish Literature authors such as Bahaettin Karakoç, Sezai Karakoç, Abdurrahim Karakoç, Âşık Mahzuni Şerif, and Necip Fazıl Kısakürek. Additionally, this section provides information about other literary personalities hailing from Kahramanmaraş and displays samples and excerpts from their literary works. This specific area serves as a testament to the wealth of literature in Kahramanmaraş, which is currently a candidate for joining the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of literature.

The Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum is a compelling attraction for literary tourists, drawing them in with its location in a historic building where these literary figures once remained together, its exhibition and conference halls, its vast library collection, and, above all, its captivating designs that demonstrate Kahramanmaraş’s literary heritage through an engaging blend of technology and visual elements.

How to cite this dictionary entry: Çevik, S. (2023). The Seven Beautiful Men Literary Museum (Kahramanmaraş, Türkiye). In R. Baleiro, G. Capecchi & J. Arcos-Pumarola (Orgs.). E-Dictionary of Literary Tourism. University for Foreigners of Perugia.