The Directorate of Istanbul Archeology Museums that is dependent on the General Directorate of Monuments and Museums of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey is on the Osman Hamdi Bey Ascent that opens to the Topkapı Palace Museum from the right of the Gülhane Park Entry which is in the Sultanahmet district.
Istanbul Archeology Museums consist of three museums. Those are Archeology Museum, Old Eastern Works Museum and Enameled Kiosk Museum.
Istanbul Archeology Museums, which were established as Müze-i Hümayun (Empire Museum) by the famous artist and Museum director Osman Hamdi Bey at the end of the 19th century, were opened to public on June 13, 1891.
Besides its importance as the ‘First Turkish Museum’, it has an importance and specialty being one of the Museum buildings that are constructed as a Museum in the World.
Today, it still protects its outstanding place in the World’s biggest Museums with its works more than a million belonging to various cultures.
In the Museum collections, there are rich and very important works of art belonging to various civilizations from the regions from Balkans to Africa, from Anatolia and Mesopotamia to Arab Peninsula and Afghanistan that were in the borders of the Ottoman Empire.
The Archeology Museum consists of two separate buildings.
I) Main Building (Old Building) Its construction was started in 1881 by Osman Hamdi Bey and with the additions in 1902 and 1908 it gained its latest form. Its architect is Alexander Vallaury. The outer face of the building was made by inspiring from the İskender Tomb and Crying Women tombs. It is a beautiful example of neoclassical buildings in Istanbul.
On the upper floor of the two-flat building there are small stone works, pots and pans, small terracotta statues, the Treasure Department and approximately 800.000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations, medals and Non-Muslim and Muslim Coin Cabinets, in which coin moulds were kept, and a Library with approximately 70.000 books.
On the bottom floor saloons of the building, famous tombs are displayed such as İskender Tomb, Crying Women Tomb, Satrap Tomb, Lykia Tomb, Tabnit Tomb that are in the Sayda King graveyard.
On the bottom floor, besides the display of tombs, there is Old Age Statuary display in which statues and relieves from important antic cities and regions take place. In this display, the development of the art of statuary from Archaic Period to the Byzantium Period is displayed in chronological order with outstanding examples.
II) Additional Building (New Building) The additional building attached to the southeast of the main building is of 6 stories. There are depots in the two stories under the ground floor.
The four stories of the building are arranged as exhibition saloons. There is ‘Istanbul for Ages’ on the first floor of the building, ‘Anatolia and Troia for Ages’ on the second floor and ‘Surrounding Cultures of Anatolia: Cyprus, Syria-Palestine on the top floor. There is Infant Museum and architectural works display on the first floor of the additional building.
The Thrakia-Bithynia and Byzantium display saloon, which was opened in August 1998, can be visited on the floor under the first floor with the name of ‘Surrounding Cultures of Istanbul’.
The museum has received the European Council Museum Award in 1991, which is its 100. establishment anniversary, with the new arrangement made in the lower floor saloons and the Additional Building display.
Old Eastern Works Museum ,The building, which was made by Osman Hamdi bey in 1883 as Sanayi-i Nefise (Fine Arts School), was organized as a Museum with the works made between 1917-1919 and 1932-1935. The building, which was closed to visit in 1963, was opened to visit again in 1974 with a new display by changing the inner parts.
On the upper floor of the two-flat building, Anatolian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Arabic works of art are displayed. Statue of Naramsin, The King of Akad, The Kades Agreement and Zincirli statue are the unique works of art in the Museum.
Moreover, in this Museum there is a ‘Tablet Archive’ in which 75.000 documents with cuneiform writings are kept.
Enameled Kiosk Museum ,The Kiosk that has been made by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1472 is one of the oldest examples of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul.
It has been used as Müze-i Hümayun (Empire Museum) between 1875-1891. It was opened to public in 1953 with the name of Fatih Museum where Turkish and Islamic works of art were displayed and it was transferred to Istanbul Archeology Museums due to its site.
The entrance facade of the Kiosk is single-flat and the back facade is of two-stories.
There is a marble porch of 14 columns in the entrance. The entrance exedra is decorated with mosaic enamels. Various chinaware and ceramics from the Seljuk and Ottoman period are displayed in the Kiosk that forms from 6 rooms and a middle saloon. There are approximately 2000 works of art in the Museum and its depots.