On the Monday after we arrived in Istanbul, the day P. was busy with her conference, I decided to wander about the streets of Beyoglu. I had no particular destination in mind, although I hoped to cross Cukurcuma and look at some antique stores. Somewhere along the way I spotted the following sign-board:
I had not read the novel, but I had read an article about the museum by Elif Batuman, and this sign intrigued me. I decided to follow it. Walking along Yeni Carsi Caddesi, I found another sign.
I kept an eye on the signs I crossed, but after a while I was lost. I had crossed Cukurcuma and walked downhill towards Tophane. Across the street — Kemeralti Caddessi — was the Kilic Ali Pasha mosque. I spent some quiet moments in the prayer hall before retracing my steps, and soon found the sign I was looking for.
Further ahead was a sign pointing right.
And then the museum came into view, a dark-red facade standing out in a street with dull-looking apartments.
The museum was closed on Mondays.
But this was no disappointment: a museum visit really made sense only after reading the novel. There was another sign that said “Visitors bringing their books may collect their invitation at the ticket window.” Helpful advice for anyone keen on saving the expensive entrance fee of 25 TL.
I left, hoping to return some day. I thought this was the end of the Museum-of-Innocence trek on this visit, but the next day, wandering again in the nearby Cukurcuma district, I found a shop that advertised itself as “A supplier to the Museum of Innocence”. It was a charming ad, perhaps suggesting that you could create your own museum of objects belonging to your favourite literary characters.
The shop interiors were dark, there was no one inside. After looking at the “objects of desire” displayed in the window, I walked back.