First Look at Istanbul Modern by Renzo Piano

The new Turkey’s museum of modern and contemporary art is ready to move into its new home in Karaköy

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Istanbul Modern, Turkey’s first museum of modern and contemporary art, is ready to move into its new home in Karaköy.
The new building designed by the RPBW - Renzo Piano Building Workshop is preparing to welcome visitors in 2022.


Built on the same site where Istanbul Modern first opened its doors in 2004, the new building’s seaside façade overlooks the Bosphorus and the historical peninsula. It occupies 10,500 square meters of useable space.

On the landside of the museum is Galataport Istanbul’s Museum Square where the Tophane Clock Tower is also located. Alongside Istanbul Modern, the area surrounding the Square boasts such landmarks as the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque Complex designed by Mimar Sinan, the Tophane Fountain, the Nusretiye Mosque, and the Tophane Pavilion, as well as the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Museum of Painting and Sculpture.

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The design of the new building was inspired by the Bosphorus with its glittering waters and light reflections. The transparent ground floor, housing the library, museum information points, the discovery space, café, and museum shop, will strengthen the connection on this exceptional site between the waterfront, and the existing Tophane Park. The opaque elements of this level create a landscape of circular columns and mechanical pipes, which forms a soft transition between light and shadow, rather than sharp shadow lines or a clear separation between black and white, thus creating a bright and safe environment.


The first floor is home to the photography gallery, pop-up gallery, education rooms and event rooms. At the same level, retaining a concept that existed in the original Istanbul Modern, a restaurant on the south façade has an outdoor terrace with views toward the Bosphorus and the historical peninsula.The second floor houses the permanent exhibition gallery and temporary exhibition gallery.
Located in a unique setting where the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn meet, Istanbul Modern provides the city with a one-of-a-kind viewing terrace hovering over a shallow plane of water which covers the entire roof of the building.
Above the glazed ground level, the skin of the building is made by a sequence of 3D formed aluminium panels playing with the shadow and light bouncing from the water.
The building also includes a 156-seat auditorium on the mezzanine for film screenings and events.


Constructed with the joint contributions of Istanbul Modern’s founding sponsor, the Eczacıbaşı Group, and its main sponsor, Doğuş Group-Bilgili Holding, the new building is preparing to welcome visitors soon.


About Istanbul Modern:
Istanbul Modern was founded in 2004 as Turkey’s first museum of modern and contemporary art. Committed to sharing Turkey’s artistic creativity and cultural identity with the local and international art worlds, the museum hosts a broad array of interdisciplinary activities. Embracing a global vision, Istanbul Modern holds in its collection works of modern and contemporary art, photography, design, architecture, and new media. Acting as an intermediary in the sharing of Turkey’s cultural identity with the international art environment, the museum supports artists in their productions and efforts to form partnerships abroad. Aspiring to make art accessible to the general public Istanbul Modern provides educational programs to art followers of all ages. Through its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs, the museum aims to instill a love of the arts in all visitors and encourage their active participation in the arts.


Istanbul Modern was established in Karaköy on the shores of the Bosphorus, where it hosted exhibitions and events for 14 years before moving to its temporary space in Beyoğlu. From May 2018 onward, Istanbul Modern welcomed visitors in its temporary space while its new building was being constructed. To date, Istanbul Modern has hosted over 8 million 500 thousand visitors and provided free art education to 850 thousand children and young people.



Cover photo: © Cemal Emden

Courtesy of RPBW 




  • Cem Yilmaz

    A brilliant museum, imagined and brought to life by a wonderful team. Probably one of the most striking museum built spaces in the world, overlooking an exceptional view.

Istanbul Modern 10

Istanbul Modern

Istanbul / Turkey / 2023