Istanbul Modern was founded in 2004 as Türkiye’s first museum of modern and contemporary art. The new museum designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop replaces the original museum building at the same location, an old customs warehouse on the Bosphorus waterfront.
The new waterfront promenade, previously inaccessible to the public, gives visitors the opportunity to gaze across the water towards the Anatolian side, Princes’ Islands and the Historical Peninsula from this unique viewpoint. The design of the new building was inspired by the glittering waters and light reflections of the Bosphorus. A transparent ground floor strengthens the connection at this exceptional site between the waterfront and Tophane Park.
At ground level, the circular columns and round mechanical funnels form an architectural landscape. The round shapes of these structural elements soften the transition between light and shadow and create a bright and safe environment by removing the sharp division between light and dark.
A café, museum shop, library, information points and educational workshop spaces are located on the ground floor next to the main lobby. A transparent glass security fence under the main body of the building protects the external sculpture terrace and educational spaces for children workshops.
The public areas of the museum are connected by a wide central stairway suspended in a large void in the center of the lobby. From the ground floor lobby, the stairs provide access to a 156-seat auditorium on an underground mezzanine. Photography and pop-up galleries are located on the first floor, as are staff offices, education and event rooms. Restaurant on the south façade has an outdoor terrace with views toward the sea.
All lobby spaces on upper levels give visitors a view of both the park and water, maintaining a visual connection to the surroundings. This also helps visitors orientate themselves through the building.
The second floor houses permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, where also astaircase leads to a glass lantern opening onto a rooftop viewing terrace that hovers above a shallow plane of water spread across the entire roof. A metaphysical connection is created by the reflections of the city on both the water feature and the sea, which merge into one.
Construction of the new building was made possible by the joint contributions of the Eczacıbaşı Group, the museum’s founding sponsor, and Doğuş Group-Bilgili Holding, the museum’s main sponsor.
2016 - 2023
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Renzo Piano Building Workshop, architects
in collaboration with Arup (Istanbul)
E. Baglietto, F. Giacobello (partner and associate in charge), R. Dunphy
with M. Cecchetto, E. Doyduk, M. Tokarnia, R. Wong and M. Yildirim; B. Pignatti, A. Pizzolato, C. Zaccaria (CGI); M. Abidos, F. Cappellini, D. Lange, F. Terranova (models)
Arup (structure, MEP, lighting), R. Uysalkan (interior architecture), JML (water feature)