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Istanbul Modern Museum

After five years of construction, the Istanbul Modern Museum, Turkey's first museum of modern and contemporary art, reopens in 2023 with a new look designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Located in the historic Beyoğlu district, it is situated on the waterfront on the western shore of the Bosphorus Strait, opposite the Sultanahmet district.
The design of the new museum is part of an overall regenerative masterplan of 1.5 km along the quay. This is a type of intervention already pioneered by Piano for the Botin Centre in Santander and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens. It is now an urban focal point between the historic centre to the west, the Bosphorus to the south, Tophane Park to the north and the new Galataport waterfront development to the east, which replaces the old pier activity. The project improves connectivity between these different areas and becomes a social and cultural destination for inhabitants and visitors. 

The park to the north of the site, surrounded by historic buildings and bordered by a freeway, is a green lung for the entire Galata area and serves as a buffer zone, protecting the waterfront and the museum from the noise of the city.
The ground floor level of the museum was raised to maximise the visual and physical connection between the waterfront and the park through the transparent atrium.

The 15,000 square metre building has five levels, three above and two below ground, housing the existing art collections of the Istanbul Modern and providing a welcoming environment for educational and cultural activities. The transparent atrium provides the public with access to a cafeteria, a bookshop, a library, museum information points and a workshop area for the 'Discovery Space' project, developed in cooperation with the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Level 1 houses the photo galleries, multi-purpose rooms and staff offices. The mezzanine floor also houses a 156-seat auditorium for film screenings and events. 
For both the exhibition rooms and the auditorium, general lighting is provided by special Palco projectors with Eutrac adapters.
Along the south façade is the Istanbul Modern restaurant, which offers a breathtaking view of the Bosphorus from an outdoor terrace and which during the evening hours also benefits from artificial lighting provided by several Le Perroquet and Laser Blade L luminaires that complement the general lighting provided by Front Light, also on track.
On level 2, the lobby leads the visitor to the permanent and temporary art galleries spanning 3,300 m². Both galleries are open and flexible, with a concrete column structure that defines the industrial character of the space. The Galleries are illuminated by floodlight Palco on tracks. 

From level 2, a staircase gives access to a 450 m² covered viewing terrace that floats on a shallow water surface covering the entire roof, creating visual continuity with the Bosphorus.  
The lobbies of the different floors are illuminated by Front Light pendant projectors with 56° wide flood and 42° flood optics to provide general illumination and 12° spot optics to create lighting accents. At the base of the various floors, Front Light with 30° medium optics are mounted on the wall, projecting downwards along the perimeters of the lobbies. On the connecting stairs the lighting effect produced by the projectors is supplemented by the effect of Reflex recessed luminaires with medium optics.   
Inside the exhibition halls (pop up gallery, photo gallery, permanent gallery, temporary gallery) the lighting, designed to offer maximum flexibility, is entrusted to Palco projectors with a combination of optics ranging from super spot to flood and wall washer.

On the outside, the building consists of a compact volume above a transparent glass façade. The façade of shaped metal panels plays with the reflections of light and water from the Bosphorus and gives the building a different appearance and liveliness depending on the movement of the sun. On the park side, on the other hand, it is the shadows of the foliage that produce movement on the façade. 
At night the lighting effects are provided by Underscore InOut Top-Bend 16mm, installed on the balustrade of the terraces. The specials Palco InOut, mounted on an outdoor track that functions only as a mechanical support, are entrusted with the task of illuminating the covered spaces around the museum, while the first floor overhang that covers the entrance area is illuminated by iRound recessed fittings. 
At ground level, the square concrete columns become circular and, together with the cylindrical mechanical funnels, populate the ground floor creating an unexpected landscape between the park and the sea.


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  • Year
  • Client
    Istanbul Modern Museum
  • Architectural project:
    Renzo Piano Building Workshop
  • Structure, MEP, lighting:
  • Founding Sponsor:
    Eczacıbaşı Group
  • Main sponsor:
    Doğuş-Bilgili Holding
  • Partner:
    Tepta Aydinlatma
  • Photographer
    Cemal Emden