Istanbul Museum Auctioning its Collection


It appears the now-closed Santralistanbul Museum of Contemporary Art in Istanbul has shocked Turkey’s cultural community by putting some portion of its art collection up for auction.

Santralistanbul-Contemporary-Art-Museum-Building-468x346Artkurio reported on Feb. 2:

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The Istanbul art scene is in uproar over the scandalous news of the upcoming sale of 70 works from the collection of Santralistanbul Museum in a local auction. The contemporary art museum, which is part of the Istanbul Bilgi University, opened only in 2007 with a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Erdogan himself. The old electric substation was contracted for 50 years to the university, and renovated by leading Turkish architects with much excitement and enthusiasm amongst artists, collectors and art lovers. After a few consecutive major exhibitions, the museum started a downward spiral…

…Now the latest, and perhaps the most disappointing news from this museum is the announcement that part of its collection will be auctioned off on 17th of February at Istanbul’s Macka Auctions.

But it’s not clear if the art sale will be limited to 70 works. Artleaks stated, also on Feb. 2, that 150 items would be involved.

Meanwhile, Hyperallergic reported that activists were responding:

A group of Istanbul-based activists, who were galvanized by the news, drafted a release and started a petition protesting the sale. In their email to Hyperallergic, they explained that they feel that the news “betrayed the trust of the art world.” The group sent Hyperallergic their full statement, which includes the following passage:

“The question is whether works donated or sold at rock-bottom prices to a museum collection that would represent the heart and soul of histories of art in Turkey could be reverted to the private domain. The works were turned over to what was upheld as a public institution that would not only provide good custodianship but also scholarship in the context of an academic institution. Neither has materialized. This is not a simple case of deaccession. It is a direct attack on Turkey’s artistic commons.”