New Turkish Museum Commemorates Democracy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially inaugurated the island of Yassıada, near Istanbul, as Democracy and Freedom Island on May 27, 2020, the 60th anniversary of a 1960 military coup, which he described as one of the darkest days in Turkey’s history. Attractions design company Outdoor Factory, based in Istanbul, was commissioned to create exhibition areas for the Democracy and Freedom Island Museum. The new attraction, also opened May 27, features 13 halls with more than 100 exhibits, monuments, military vehicle replicas, multimedia displays, and about 80 interactive animatronics.
Derya Balci, corporate communications and marketing director of Outdoor Factory, says Yassıada became an island of exiles in 1960 when the Turkish military took over the government in a coup and tried and jailed members of the government’s managing party. Democracy returned to Turkey in the mid-1960s, but the island was kept closed until now.
“We created both outdoor and indoor exhibitions,” says Balci. “We tell how Turkey became a democracy. Outdoor Factory Designer Partner Sinan Turaman and his concept creation and design team of 30 conceived several giant outdoor monuments that took more than a year to create. But they also used technology. We have giant screens, holograms, animatronics, and other interactive exhibits. You see, you touch, and you feel. We tell historical things that people just don’t know, like that 592 people were jailed on the island.”
One exhibit recreates a Turkish Airlines plane crash near London’s Gatwick Airport in 1959. The aircraft
carried Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, government officials, and 24 passengers and crew. Menderes survived the crash (14 others were killed). Other exhibitions include the 795-square-meter “Officer’s Dormitory” where Menderes stayed on Yassıada and parts of the gallows from Imrali island where he was executed.
Balci says Turaman and the Outdoor Factory design team approached the project like a living history lesson.
“He said we learn history in high school, but we don’t actually see it and experience it. In this museum, just like when you go to theme parks, you feel like you’re actually experiencing what happened in real life at that time.”