Defne Tulga

Portrait of woman walking with graffiti wall in the background

The Soho House Istanbul member and art curator shares her five favourite museums around the world

‘I’ve been in the arts scene since my childhood. My parents have been collecting contemporary art for almost 30 years and influenced me to do so. We visited many artists’ studios and international art fairs. And we also supported emerging artists and local gallery owners, became members of art associations, and visited many collectors’ houses around the world. Art not only became my passion while educating my eye, but it also allowed me to take my career on this path. I see myself as an exhibition designer, who is responsible for the coordination between clients and curators, sponsors and press, etc. I believe that the world needs more young creative souls who support and believe in the power of art, especially in the country I live in.

‘I studied abroad during my high school and university years, and had the opportunity to visit many museums and art institutions all around the globe. My favourite ones are Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, New Museum in New York, MAAT Museum in Lisbon, and Sadberk Hanım Museum in Istanbul.

‘I’m that person who stares at an artwork for a long time and sets aside at least half a day for a museum visit – it recharges me immediately. Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen is my all-time favourite, because it’s more than just a building guarding art pieces; it offers a different perspective of what art is for me. The experience is not only indoor, but also outdoor, and the architecture is crucial. One of the cool things about the museum is the way it works with light – specifically the natural light let in from the beautiful oceanside view.

‘Museo Tamayo, founded by an artist called Rufino Tamayo, is also one of my favourites, because it only exhibits works from Mexican artists. When you enter the building, you can feel and see details of Brutalism, and it really facilitates varied exhibitions.

‘I love going to the New Museum when I’m in New York, as I’ve visited many great retrospectives and solo exhibitions of artists that I discovered for the first time here. It’s always an informative experience to visit the current shows.

‘I also enjoy visiting MAAT Museum in Lisbon, because it’s one of the first museums to cultivate contemporary art, architecture and technology at a specific location. The museum allows you to become interactive with the kunsthalle.

‘Finally, the one I visit most often is the Sadberk Hanım Museum in my hometown, Istanbul. It’s the first privately owned museum in Turkey and its extensive permanent collection is what makes it special for me. You can find many unique works, from Islamic calligraphy to ceramics, jewellery, and Turkish textiles.

‘I absolutely love going to Soho House in Miami during Art Basel, where I meet amazing people and have a great time. However, my all-time favourite Soho House is the one in Istanbul, because having an Eastern Standard on the rooftop while enjoying the sunset and the view of the Golden Horn is just incomparable.’