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THE TURVAK MUSEUM - 90 YEAR HISTORY OF TURKISH CINEMA
AND 250 YEAR HISTORY OF TURKISH THEATER

The museum, which was created in 2001 as part of Turvak, founded by the 50-year veteran producer-director of Turkish cinema Turker Inanoglu, greets visitors with a cinematic presentation on a mini-screen. On the screen are the famous stars of Turkish film, Filiz Akin and Kartal Tibet. In a section near the main entrance is an exhibition of documents representing Turkish cinema from the early 20th century up to today-contracts, stock shares, old movie tickets, correspondence of various kinds. The corridor on the left is like a time capsule, the walls on both sides hung with portraits of the seasoned actors of Turkish film. On the left side are photographs of the late departed. 'Little Lady' Belgin Doruk, handsome male lead Ayhan Isik, Bedia Muvahhit, one of Turkey's first female actors, the well-known comedian Kemal Sunal, who charmed audiences of all ages, Cahide Sonku, known as Turkey's Marlene Dietrich, Sadri Alisik who played 'Omer the Tourist', Aliye Rona, one of Turkey's best character actresses, and many, many others too numerous to mention here. On the right side of the corridor are photographs of the actors currently working in Yesilcam, from Sevda Ferdag and Ekrem Bora to Kadir Inanir and Turkan Soray, from Tarik Akan and Mujde Ar to Nuri Alco and Hulya Kocyigit. Over a thousand posters from Yesilcam, which has produced upwards of 6500 films up to now, are on display in the Lutfi Omer Akad Cinema at the end of the corridor. Here you can also get a glimpse of the technology of those days, which evokes certain nostalgia: a machine for developing film, montage tables, old 16 and 35 mm cameras, and the enormous old dollies that required two or three men to move.

Another section of the museum is the hall named for Fuat Uzkinay, who shot the first Turkish moving picture, which recorded the toppling of the Ayastefanos monument at Yesilkoy in 1914. Worth seeing here are the first sound-recording camera used by Muhsin Ertugrul at the beginning of the 20th century, and the 1920 model, 16 mm André Debrie camera with which three Charlie Chaplin films were shot. And television, which has developed in tandem with cinema since the 1970s, has not been neglected either. The first black-and-white and color cameras used by Turkish State Radio and Television (TRT), montage and synchronization instruments, portraits of famous television personalities, and select photographs from black-and-white as well as color television productions are deftly displayed in the Adnan Oztrak Hall.

On the top floor of the Museum of Cinema and Television is the 'Theater Museum'. Museum director Erol Senel explains that when they went to work to found the museum the theater actors were very helpful, sharing information and contributing a number of documents. "We thought we owed them a debt of gratitude, so we decided to set up a theater museum." Originally conceived as 'Selections from Turkish Theater from Yesterday to Today', this section was soon transformed into a museum itself. The transition from the traditional to the modern in Turkish theater, whose roots go back to the Karagöz and Hacivat shadow puppet theater, is traced step by step in the museum, one corner of which is allocated to 'ortaoyunu', a Turkish-style Commedia dell'Arte and one of the cornerstones of traditional Turkish theater. Characters Kavuklu and Pisekâr stand in front of the 'new world' stage while portraits of Nasit and Ismail Dumbullu, the great masters of ortaoyunu, adorn the walls. Muhsin Ertugrul, who turned theater into a profession in Turkey, occupies an important place in the museum as well. Exhibited here are a large number of personal items that belonged to Ertugrul, a man of 'firsts' in film but whose heart was always in the theater. The museum's oldest artifacts meanwhile are two theater tickets made of porcelain, dating back to the Byzantine Empire. Hand-made theater posters, stage costumes and Karagoz and Hacivat puppets are among the items on display in the museum reading room.

On the museum's giant stage posters of all the theaters and plays from Ottoman times up to the present are exhibited. On one side Afife Jale, Turkey's first theater actress, on the other Suzan Lutfullah Sururi, the country's original prima donna.

All of a sudden we hear a burst of applause for Irma La Douce from a theater in Beyoglu's Atlas Arcade, and shortly Yildiz Kenter slips out of herself and takes the stage as an energetic Arkadina. She is soon followed by Musfik Kenter, Kinar Hanim, Nisa Serezli, Burhaneddin Tepsi, Altan Erbulak, Zeki Alasya, Metin Akpinar, Sadri Alisik, Bedia Muvahhit, Sükran Gungor... the stream of actors is never-ending. Underwritten by Turker Inanoglu, his close colleagues and a host of actors, the Turvak (Turker Inanoglu Foundation) museums are two priceless treasures that shed light on the history of Turkish theater and film.

Reference: Fusun Akay, Turvak Museum Archive / Skylife

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