EXHIBITION | Istanbul, Pera Museum, Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure: Nostalgia from Sea Baths to Beaches

Pera Museum and the Istanbul Research Institute shed light on the socio-cultural structure of the history of Istanbul with the exhibition titled “Istanbul’s Seaside Leasure: Nostalgia from Sea Bath to Beaches” in Istanbul. Compiled from the archive of the Istanbul Research Institute, on the 10th anniversary of its establishment, and from different collections, this exhibition focuses on the revolutionary story of the transition from sea bath enclosed with wooden panels to beaches in the midst of the 1870s to mid-20th century.


It was the First World War which played a critical role in the Ottoman empire shaping the transformation the mindset of how Ottoman people related with the sea. At that time, swimming in the sea was perceived as a matter of privacy and, therefore, considered as wrong and even illegal for a long time.


During the second half of the 19th century, “sea baths” enclosed with wooden panels was a must for inhabitants of a waterside city like Istanbul, despite the effect of Westernization.

The transition from sea bath to beach was a revolution. The White Russians who fled their countries in the Russian Revolution were the cause for many transformations in Istanbul, the most important of which was the beach habits that made the people meet the sea.

Curated by Zafer Toprak, the Istanbul’s Seaside Leisure exhibition brings together photographs, magazines, comics, objects, and books from various private and institutional collections, and tells a nostalgic story while also addressing the change and socialization of the norms of how Istanbulites used their free time.
The exhibition is on display until 26. August.

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