About the Museum
   The Building
   Voyvoda Street
   Concept and Script
   Exhibition Design
   Architectural Design
   Calendar Of Events
   Exhibitions
   Frequently Asked Questions
   Credits

THE MUSEUM

The Ottoman Bank Museum, located in the former head office of the Ottoman Bank on Voyvoda Street, operates under the aegis of the Garanti Bank sponsored Ottoman Bank Archive and Research Center. The museum, organized in and around the bank's safe room, draws on a wealth of information from the bank's archive to narrate the history of this institution, which operated as the central bank, bank of issue, and treasurer of the Ottoman Empire.

Apart from the history of the institution itself, the objects and documents displayed in the museum aim to provide a series of insights into the fascinating world of the late Ottoman and early Republican period. Based on a combination of chronological and thematic approaches, the museum thus examines the main phases of the evolution of the bank, while at the same time offering glimpses into the social, economic, and political environment of the time through bank branches, customer files, market operations and personnel profiles.

The museum script starts with the establishment of the bank in 1856 and its promotion to a state bank status in 1863. Following the hardships of the 1870s, the narrative analyzes the rapid growth of the institution from the 1880s on, up to its apex on the eve of World War I. From this point on, the exhibit shifts to a thematic approach, concentrating on documents reflecting the social, political, and economic environment in which the bank operated. Commercial transactions, stock exchange operations, a widening network of branches, various categories of customers, profiles of prominent or atypical clients, staff photographs and files are thus used to revive the 'human' conditions that characterized the troubled world of the end of the nineteenth and first decades of the twentieth centuries. Returning to a chronological flow, the exhibit then moves on to the difficulties experienced during the Great War, the first contacts established with the Kemalist government on Ankara, and to the process of adaptation to the new balance of power emerging with the establishment of the Republic.

The safe rooms located at the center of the main exhibit hall are used to display a number of archival series similar to the documents displayed in the historical narrative. Each of the four intertwined safe rooms constituting a 'steel fort'-as its constructor Samuel Chatwood named it-is thus devoted to a particular type of documents: accounting books and stocks and bonds in one safe room, customer files and deposit cards in another, personnel files and photographs in the third. As to the fourth and largest two-storied safe room-named the Mecidiye safe room, after the silver coins that were stored here-it is entirely devoted to the role of the Ottoman Bank as a bank of issue, displaying Thasin İsbiroğlu's unique collection of banknotes issued by this institution, as well as proofs, specimens, numbering books and other documents relating to this aspect of the bank's operations.

The computer screens at the end of the main exhibit hall offer visitors the possibility of making their own interactive visit into the material displayed in the museum. Again based on alternative thematic and chronological flows, this virtual tour of the archives displays the major trends and events in the bank's history, and provides detailed information on the political, economic, and social context of the time, down to individual careers and life stories. Each case is illustrated by a number of photographs and documents, all of them translated both into modern Turkish and English.

Almost all of the documents displayed in the museum originate from the bank's archives, the richest private archival source in Turkey. Additional documents-especially photographs-have been obtained from private collections and other sources in order to provide a livelier illustration of the bank's own documentation. The result is a series of snapshots from a century ago which, beyond the history of the bank itself, can be read as a narrative of the fascinating period of late Ottoman and Republican history. The Ottoman Bank Museum aims to be more than just a museum of banking and to provide awareness of a much wider context of social history.

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