Culture As A Commodity

Vacationing in Turkey was essential for me this summer. I couldn’t deal with the hassle of excess luggage, passport checks, security lines, and long flight times. After the chaos of the last 6 months in Istanbul, I just wanted to get in a car, drive away from people, and chill out with my family in Kas, alone on the Mediterranean.
Road tripping in Turkey is never boring. Along with the usual stuff like eating mezze in weird, rusty, decaying woodland parks, ironically enough I found very high quality body products from Germany, for sale in a roadside kebab restaurant. There is a plethora of ancient sites to check out everywhere with a heavy concentration of UNESCO world heritage sites on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Xanthos, an ancient Lycian acropolis with river views, tombs, and an amphitheater notable particularly for the Nereid monument, now displayed in the British museum, and the Xanthian Obelisk, a giant trilingual (ancient Greek, Lycian, and Milyan) engraved stone monument.
The ancient site of Ephesus, in the town of Selcuk, was remarkably well preserved, situated amidst hundreds of loamy acres and gentle mountain slopes. As the sun was setting, the view of the land and river, shimmering beneath me from the amphitheater’s top row of seats, was an unforgettable sight of unparalleled symmetry.
Transcendent experiences aside, I was taken aback yet again by how disorganized the Turkish museum system is. A museum card is valid for one year. Because of the higher price, one would imagine the card would give access to all government sponsored museums. However, with further investigation, you realize said card is only valid for a handful of select museums, and you need particular cards for specific museum groups and distinctive areas. There is no discount for Turkish citizens and their dependents, and different exhibits incur additional cost, even if you purchase the special annual card for the unique collection.
Unfortunately, the same is true in Istanbul. Surprisingly, the card precludes access to all of Istanbul’s government sponsored museums. This is disorganized, expensive, and unfair to Turkish taxpayers.
Museums are managed by the state, funded by the taxpayer, and therefore should be publicly available for a deeply discounted viewing, or at least one or two free days a week. The restaurants selling food on museum grounds should also give discounts to citizens. This way residents can have access to the surfeit of cultural and historical artifacts for educational purposes, as well as instilling a sense of pride and ownership in Turkey’s rich, ancient history.
In reference to privately owned museums like Sabanci, Pera, and Istanbul Modern. They are costly to utilize often, and there is a air of elitism surrounding these places that discourages a growing percentage of the population from entering. Culture and art are meant to be viewed by all types of people; to start a discussion; and to illuminate complex aspects of society people are hesitant to explore. It’s ironic that these institutions cater to an upmarket crowd, when most artists can’t afford access.

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Megan

Coffee. Beer. Climbing Tall Things.

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