Ankara Art and Sculpture Museum Directorate

Examples from the Art Works

The History of Structure

The structure in which the Ankara State Museum of Fine Arts is located was constructed on Namazgâh Hill by Architect-Engineer Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu (1888-1982). This building was designed as the headquarters for the Turkish Nationalits Clubs and the structure is one of the most beautiful examples of the “First National Architectural Period”. The Turkish Nationalist Clubs were organizations that received support from the state and were established after the Second Constitutional Monarchy and supported the War of Independence, Atatürk’s principles, with an aim of spreading the virtues of the Republic government to the people by means of culture. A contest was opened in 1926 for the Turkish Nationalist Club Headquarters building. With Atatürk’s instructions, the project of Architect A. Hikmet Koyunoğlu, who constructed the Ethnographic Museum on Namazgâh Hill, won first prize. The construction of the building, which Atatürk liked and approved of from the watercolour painting, was started on 21 March 1927. Eminent Atatürk wanted Turkish decorations to be used in the building and ordered that only Turkish labourers work on its construction. A great number of the Turkish stonemasons died on the front during the War of Independence. Architect Koyunoğlu gathered tombstone masters and brought marble with great difficulty from Marmara Island to complete the construction of the building in April 1930. Marble master Hüseyin Avni, metal master Hakkı, stonemason master Baki and Hüseyin of Ankara Effendis are the names of the masters who are remembered with respect by the architect. Atatürk went to supervise frequently throughout its construction. According to the recollections of Koyunoğlu, on such a visit, Ataturk sat with laborers on a snowy day, sipping hot tea from a wooden spoon with them amoungst the boards and processed marble. This is also where Ataturk first mentions to Koyunoğlu the ‘Youth Park’ project.

The site of the Turkish Nationalist Club Headquarters, when the clubs were closed around the beginning of 1931, was turned over to the Republican People’s Party on 10 June 1931. After the opening of the Community Centres in 1932, with the objective of ensuring the development of the Turkish people in terms of education and culture and the spreading of the virtues of the Republic government and the Kemalist principles to the people, this building started to provide services as the Ankara Community Centre.

The Ankara Community Center stimulated the cultural life of the capital city. Important meetings, ceremonies, concerts, theatre, opera and ballet performances were held in the magnificent hall of this building and a rich library was set up. Atatürk frequently watched the above mentioned activities from the presidential loge. Some of the important events in which Atatürk participated at the Turkish Nationalist Club and the Ankara Community Centre are given as follows:

• After visiting the Ethnographic Museum, touring the theatre and the other halls whose furnishings were completed (5 February 1930).

• Participating,in the Turkish Nationalist Clubs Sixth General Assembly Meeting (27 April 1930).
• Watching the play performed by the French theatre group (19 January 1931).

• Attending, the wedding of Chief of General Staff Marshal Fevzi Çakmak’s daughter(14 May 1931).

• Acting as a chairman of the Turkish History Association meeting (19 July 1931).

• Operetta performed by the Bulgarian Operetta Group (11 December 1931).

• The play “Akın” written by Faruk Nafiz Çamlıbel (4 January 1932).

• The play “Çoban” (Shepherd) written by Behçet Kemal Çağlar (3 April 1932)

• The play “Mavi Yıldırım” (Blue Lightning) written by Aka Gündüz (11 June 1932)

• Performances of the Bulgarian Ballet Group (21 June 1932)

• Beginning of the First Turkish History General Assembly (2 July 1932)

• Famous Speech to Youth celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Republic

• “Painting Exhibit” opened for the tenth anniversary of the Republic (2 November 1933)

• The performance by the Ankara Girls’ High School (12 May 1934)

• Adnan Saygun’s “Öz Soy” opera with the Shah of Iran, Rıza Pehlevi the Shah of Iran was entertained at the Ankara Community Center Turkish Language Association’s Language Holiday meeting (19 July 1934)

• Attending a performance of Ahmet Adnan Saygun’s “Taşbebek” (Doll) opera (27 December 1934)

• Watching a music and ballet performance by the Moscow State Theater (17 April 1935)

• Attending the opening ceremony of the Language and History-Geography Faculty(9 January 1936).

• Watching a show performed by the youth from Bursa (26 March 1937).

• Watching the adapted children’s operetta called “Ay Işığı” (Moonlight) (26 May 1937).

After the Community Centres were closed in 1952, the building was turned over to the Treasury, with permission given for its use to the Turkish Nationalist Clubs which were reopened. It was observed that in between 1952-1961, besides being used for the activities organized by the Turkish Nationalist Clubs Association, it was also used for the Third Stage performances of the State Theaters and by the Ankara Municipality for wedding ceremonies. Decay occurred here and there and the needed repairs were not undertaken because the three organizations did not take the responsibility for the building. After this, in 1961 with the order of President Cemal Gürsel, the building was handed over to the Ministry of National Education. The building served for a short period as the Ankara Public Training Center and the same year it was once again given to the Turkish Nationalist Clubs Association. In 1965 the building once again changed hands and became part of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, however the Turkish Nationalist Clubs Association continued its activities. The building was transferred to the Ministry of Defense in 1971 and after a report from this ministry, it was assigned to the Ministry of National Education. During all these changes of owners, the building became quite worn out and a portion of the historical items were destroyed, the loges in the salon were dismantled and the stage became unusable.

In 1972 great changes were made when the building was transformed into the Ankara Public Training Centre and the Evening Art School by the Ministry of National Education. Rooms were joined together and made into an atelier, some windows were covered and carpenter lathe benches were assembled. The greatest damage to the building occurred in this period when various vocational courses were opened and a portion of the internal and external decorations crumbled.

The Establishment of the Museum

Finally this magnificent structure of Turkish architecture from the Republic period, with an initiative by the Ministry of Culture, General Directorate of Fine Arts, was assigned to the Ministry of Culture through a keen interest of President Fahri Korutürk and with a decree by the Council of Ministers No. 7/1172 dated 25 October 1975 to be transformed into a Museum of Fine Arts. The building was handed over to the Ministry of Culture in 1976 and the restoration started in conformity with the original building according to the project of Architeck Abdurrahman Hancı and under the supervision of Architect Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu who was alive at that time. On the one hand, while the restoration continued, it was attempted to acquire the museum collections. Four teams of two persons each consisting of Eşref Üren, Arif Kaptan, Turan Erol, Orhan Peker, Refik Epikman, Şefik Bursalı, Mehmet Özel and Osman Zeki Oral visited the public institutions and determined the works that could be placed in the museum. Up to 800 works of art were discovered at various public institutions. About 500 of these were valuable enough to be placed in the museum. These works of art were collected after a notification from the Prime Ministry and the maintenance and repair of these were undertaken. The first collection of the museum was acquired in this manner. The works of art that would be exhibited in the rooms of the museum were determined by a selection committee composed of Prof. Turan Erol, Prof. Devrim Erbil, Prof. Mustafa Pilevneli and Mehmet Özel and were mounted in place. The Ankara State Museum of Fine Arts was opened to the public with a ceremony by the sixth President Fahri Korutürk on 2 April 1980. However, the basement of the museum building had still not been touched, the deficiencies of the concert hall had not been completed and the landscaping of the garden had not yet been undertaken.

In 1981 one of the Atatürk Art Awards was given to Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu, the architect of the structure. Restoration of the basement started in 1982 and was completed in 1983, while in 1984 a place with soil fill in the basement was utilized by the Sedat Simavi Foundation and transformed into the Simavi Art Gallery. Every year the International Sedat Simavi Caricature Contest Exhibit is held at this gallery.

Other than the magnificent concert hall whose acoustical structure is excellent, all the sections had been opened to the public. The restoration of the concert hall was commenced in 1985. The rosewood armchairs were repaired. The loges and decorations adopted the form they had in 1930. The stage was made usable. The Hacı Ömer Sabancı Foundation contributed to the repair of the concert hall. Towards the end of 1985 the concert hall was opened. Artistic activities are undertaken here seven days a week. From this point of view, the Ankara State Museum of Fine Arts has assumed the function of a cultural centre as well as that of a museum.

The Museum Collections

The collections of the Ankara State Museum of Fine Arts were acquired with great efforts, but with small expenditures. In 1976 the building was handed over by the Ministry of National Education together with four valuable paintings. The first works of art of the collection were Osman Hamdi Bey’s “The Weapons Merchant”, V. Vereshchagin’s “In Front of Tamerlane’s Grave”, Zonaro’s “Portrait of a Young Girl” and Emel Cimcoz (Korutürk’s) “Gratitude to Gazi”. Paintings on the walls at public institutions, in storage rooms and those purchased by the state were combed by a group of eight artists including Eşref Üren, Arif Kaptan, Orhan Peker, Refik Epikman, and Turan Erol, Şefik Bursalı, Mehmet Özel and O. Zeki Oral. Up to 500 paintings were designated as worthy of being placed in the museum. In accordance with a notification from the Prime Ministry, these paintings were collected and by undertaking their maintenance and repair, they formed the largest collection at the museum. Some of the public institutions and public banks did not want to give their very valuable paintings to the museum.

As a result of the painting purchases started by Adnan Ötüken, the founder of the National Library7, a valuable collection of paintings appeared at the National Library. A group of works of art from this collection were restored and added to the museum collection.
Works of art were also acquired for the museum by purchasing paintings from the auctions held abroad. Fikret Mualla’s 36 paintings were purchased from Paris and brought to Türkiye and placed in the museum.

A significant number of works of art were obtained for the museum through donations. Examples of donations are Artist Şeref Akdik’s wife Sara Akdik’s Şerif Akdik collection composed of 40 works of art, Çelik Gülersoy’s calligraphy collection consisting of 7 works of art, Emel Korutürk’s İbrahim Çallı portraits, Bülent and İbrahim Cimcoz’s İbrahim Çallı portrait, and the General Director of Fine Arts, Mehmet Özel’s one each, from the art works of Ayvazovski, Hikmet Onat, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Eşref Üren and Arif Kaptan.

Half of the art works at the museum are composed of those that have been purchased at exhibits. The works of art are evaluated and chosen by a selection committee. In purchasing, priority is given to the works of art that have won a prize at the State Fine Arts Exhibits. There are a total of 1,289 works of art by 399 artists registered as the property of the museum as of 1 October 1992. The distribution of these works by the field of art is as follows: 890 Paintings, 211 Statues, 118 Engravings, 54 Ceramics and 16 Turkish Decorative Arts. Up to 250 of these works of art are on display in the exhibition rooms.

The Activities of the Museum

The Ankara State Museum of Fine Arts was organized as a directorate attached to the headquarters organization of the Ministry of Culture, General Directorate of Fine Arts. There are within the structure of the museum three fine arts galleries (the Korutürk, Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu and Sedat Simavi galleries), three ateliers (painting, statue, ceramics), the restoration atelier, six exhibition rooms, the fine arts expert library, Oriental Salon, concert-theatre hall, administrative section, cafeteria and storage rooms.

The main duties of the museum are to preserve the works of art in the collection and to give visitors the opportunity of viewing them. In 1991, 110.000 people visited the museum. This number is not sufficient. Occasionally, works are selected from the museum collections and exhibited within Türkiye and abroad hence giving way to increased promotion. As many as 60 national and international exhibits are opened at the three charming art galleries throughout the art season. The most important ones are the Asian-European Biennial Exhibit organized once every two years, the International Sedat Simavi Caricature Contest Exhibit and the exhibits of foreign artists opened within the framework of cultural agreements. The courses opened at the museum ateliers are another activity of the museum. These courses are attended by talented people of all ages and professions. The restoration atelier provides services first of all to the museum, then to the public institutions and the galleries. The most regular visitors to the museum are the students working towards a master’s or a doctor’s degree in the fields of painting, sculpture and ceramics. It can be said that the duty of furnishing artistic works to the public institutions and the Turkish representations abroad have also been given to the museum.

Because the museum building was designed as a cultural centre, it has a 500 seat capacity concert hall with excellent acoustics and is decorated with Turkish motifs. The stage, which has an orchestra pit, is appropriate for performances of operettas. The Ankara State Opera and Ballet gives performances of operettas three times a week at his hall. On other days the Ministry of Culture and other private artistic ensembles present concerts, movies are shown and folk dances are performed. Culturally oriented congresses, panel discussions and conferences are also among the daytime activities.

Director: Necdet Can

Address: Opera


Tel : (0 312) 311 82 64

Fax : (0 312) 311 82 64