Oya Eczacıbaşı

Board Chairwoman of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art

Istanbul Modern is the first modern art museum of Turkey.It was founded by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts in 2004 under the leadership of the Eczacıbaşı family.

Every year 650,000 people visit Istanbul Modern, which the BBC described as the "museum that changed Turkish Art"

Forty percent of the visitors (and even 50% in summer) are foreign tourists. The person who created Istanbul Modern and supervises its operations with her team today is Oya Eczacıbaşı, Chairwoman of its Board of Directors.

In its “Power 2011” edition, Art + Auction magazine of the US listed Mrs. Eczacıbaşı as one of the "125 Women of Impact" and named her one most powerful people of the world of culture. The French government honored her with the "Legion d'Honneur" Award, the highest French order for military and civil merits for her contributions to art. She has striven to make Istanbul be one of the centers of global modern art today.

"I have always been excited about doing more for Turkey," Mrs. Eczacıbaşı says.

She graduated from Lycee Marie-Curie in Strasbourg, in France and received a BA in Business Administration from the elite Bosphorus University in Istanbul, and an MA in Museum Management from the University of Leicester in England.

She organized the Military Museum exhibitions in the 1st Istanbul Biennial, which was produced by Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts in 1987. Mrs. Eczacıbaşı lectured on Museum Management at the Bosphorus University from 2002 to 2007.

She has been Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Istanbul Modern since its inception, and is also takes her place in the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art (shortly MoMA).

Oya Eczacibasi's thoughts on the cultural life of Turkey, the perception of art abroad and the potential of art are given in a nutshell below.

Istanbul, A Global showcase

"Many things have changed in modern art in Turkey. The establishment of Istanbul Modern was just one of the reasons that triggered this change, and it became a significant milestone of this process.

Especially in recent times, our country has become a shining star in culture and art arena, and is being curiously followed abroad. Turkey in the 2000s was in a great transformation in every area. Istanbul is the global showcase of the great change in Turkey.

The biggest factors that enable Istanbul to be perceived as a center of attraction in a global environment of art and tourism are primarily the energetic transformation in our environment of modern art, the art events such as Istanbul Biennial, the dynamism in the museology field, fairs, the increasing number of diversified galleries, as well as the art projects in the public sphere.

In addition, non-institutional artist movements, non-governmental initiatives and artist organizations are the outstanding changes of that period. The leading representatives of our modern art are now better known in the global art world. Our country is being curiously watched from abroad in cultural and artistic terms. Just like our mission, it is important to display innovation and creativity at this point."

The "Changing Face of Turkey" According To New York Times

"Istanbul Modern, as a museum that represents the bringing together of art and society in the eyes of public, constantly enhances its power. The stronger its connection with the society is, the better it is known outside the boundaries of our county, and our museum becomes an essential visiting target for the people coming to Istanbul from various countries around the world.

Istanbul Modern has become a Mecca for foreign press members who visit our country. In foreign media comments, it was stated that the richness of our modern art dated back to the old times emphasizing that Istanbul proved to be the capital of culture. Istanbul Modern was presented as the 'changing face of Turkey' by the New York Times. Therefore, Istanbul Modern rapidly progresses to be a world brand that expresses the modern art life of Turkey."

The World’s Perspective For Istanbul is Changing

“The fact that the artworks of Turkish artists are shown among the outstanding works among the international press exhibits how developed Turkish modern art is now. Especially the formation of new collector groups in recent years and the interest that global auction institutions display of modern artists increases the curiosity and interest towards art in public. I hope this development will be reflected on the support towards the productions of artists and the art world will revive.

Compared to the museum and museology culture of the West, we can say that we are still at the bottom of the ladder. Today, 650.000 people visit Istanbul Modern every year; if we try hard to attract our foreign visitors to our museums in Istanbul, to which more than 8 million tourists come every year, I think the number of the potential visitors will increase more during the following years.”

The Capital Of Art And Culture

“This geography, once shaped with the socio-cultural and political boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, attracts the attention of global art world today. Istanbul Modern takes both an active role in the transformation of this geography as a heritage, and endeavors to be the mediator of common contexts and relationships between the boundaries and identities. We would like to remind that Istanbul, a center of attraction, is a significant capital of culture and art throughout the world and consistently maintains this role."

The Eczacıbaşı Family, who led to the foundation of Istanbul Modern, also established the Eczacıbaşı Group, one of Turkey’s leading industrial conglomerates since the 1940s.

Breaking many new grounds in Turkey, the Group first produced patent medicines in 1952, ceramic sanitary ware in 1958 and sanitary paper products in 1970. Owning the world's biggest ceramic sanitary ware factory under one roof, Eczacıbaşı Group is among the leading industrial groups of Europe with a total of 41 subsidiaries (four with foreign partners), more than 12,000 employees and an approximate turnover of $5 billion.