The Museum of Innocence

A unique re-imagination of Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk’s award-winning ‘The Museum of Innocence’ travels to London for the first time
27 January – 3 April 2016
Courtyard Rooms, Somerset House, London
Free Entry
Somerset House is delighted to announce a collaboration with Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk which will see a unique new version of his collection The Museum of Innocence, the physical manifestation of his novel of the same name, travel to Somerset House’s Courtyard Rooms in January 2016.
Both the novel and the museum tell the story of engaged wealthy socialite Kemal Bey’s obsessive love for Füsun, his twice removed cousin and a beautiful shopgirl, through an array of everyday items which have taken on special emotional significance as mementos and keep-sakes of the couple’s ill-fated romance. 
The exhibition at Somerset House will focus on 13 vitrines filled with everyday objects that each represent a single moment within the relationship, interwoven with film by celebrated director Grant Gee, original material about the making of the museum and facsimile manuscripts of the novel. More than the sum of their parts, each vitrine lends insight into the private world and passions of the novel’s characters as well as Istanbul as a city. Some pieces, such as hair clips, toothbrushes or cologne, hint at the fictional lovers’ bodily presence; some at everyday life in 1970s Istanbul through newspaper clippings, tin spoons and salt shakers; and some at key moments within their love story, such as the formal invitation to Sibel and Kemal’s engagement party. 
The careful collection and curation of each piece in the exhibition demonstrates the magic of everyday items and the imprint we leave not just on the lives of those who love us but the objects with which we surround ourselves.
Excerpts from celebrated British film-maker Grant Gee’s latest film Innocence of Memories, which premiered earlier this year at Venice Film Festival and makes its London debut at the BFI Southbank on 26 January, will contextualise the vitrines. Gee worked closely with Pamuk on creating a cinematic extension of the novel which uses the sights and sounds of contemporary Istanbul along with new text written by Pamuk from the perspective of one of the novel’s secondary characters to set the scene. 
Orhan Pamuk said: “This new touring exhibition will tell a different version of the love story set in Istanbul through objects and Grant Gee’s wonderful new film. I’m delighted that The Museum of Innocence has been given a new life out in the wider world at Somerset House.” 
Innocence of Memories opens in select UK cinemas on 29 January by Soda Pictures. Orhan Pamuk’s novel The Museum of Innocence is published by Faber & Faber. 
For press enquiries and images, please contact Francesca Hughes, Press Officer:
Notes to Editors
Dates: 27 January – 3 April 2016 
Open Daily: 10am - 6pm
Address: Courtyard Rooms, South Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Admission: Free
Transport: London Underground: Temple, Embankment, Covent Garden; Network Rail: Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars
Somerset House public enquiries: 020 7845 4600 |
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Hashtag: #MuseumOfInnocence
About Somerset House
A unique part of the London cultural scene, Somerset House is an historic building where surprising and original work comes to life. From its 18th century origins, Somerset House has been a centre for debate and discussion – an intellectual powerhouse for the nation. Somerset House is today a key cultural destination in London in which to experience a broad range of artistic activity, engage with artists, designers and makers and be a part of a major creative forum – an environment that is relaxed, welcoming to all and inspirational to visit while providing a stimulating workplace for the cultural and creative industries.  Since its opening in 2000, Somerset House has built up a distinctive outdoor public programme including Skate, concerts, an open-air film season and a diverse range of temporary exhibitions throughout the site focusing on contemporary culture, with an extensive learning programme attached. It is one of the biggest community of creative organisations in London including The Courtauld Gallery and Institute of Art, King’s College London Cultural Institute and over 100 other creative businesses. It currently attracts approximately 2.5 million visitors every year.
About Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk is the author of eight novels, the memoir Istanbul, three works of non-fiction, and is the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy praised Pamuk, ‘who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.’ One of Europe’s most prominent novelists, his work has been translated into over 60 languages and sold over twelve million copies worldwide. In Spring 2012, Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence opened in Istanbul. The culmination of a decade-long project, the museum is counterpart to the novel of the same name, and is accompanied by a catalogue, The Innocence of Objects, published by Abrams. 
About Grant Gee
Grant Gee is a filmmaker based in Brighton, England. He has made films about anarchists, rock groups, rock climbers and writers. His 1997 film Meeting People is Easy about Radiohead was nominated for a Grammy. He also directed the iconic music video for the group’s song No Surprises. His film Joy Division won the UK‘s Grierson Award for Best Theatrical Documentary (2008). His film The Western Lands won Best Short Film at the Banff Film Festival (2008). His 2012 film Patience (After Sebald), about W. G. Sebald’s unclassifiable masterpiece, The Rings of Saturn premiered at the New York Film Festival and enjoyed successful theatrical runs in both the UK and US. He is currently developing his first drama – adaptations of Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse. Innocence of Memories opens in select UK cinemas on 29 January by Soda Pictures.
The Museum of Innocence
The Museum of Innocence is both a novel by Orhan Pamuk and a museum he has set up. From the very beginnings of the project, since the 1990s, Pamuk has conceived of novel and museum together. The novel, which is about love, is set between 1974 and the early ’00s, and describes life in Istanbul between 1950 and 2000 through memories and flashbacks centred around two families – one wealthy, the other lower middle class. The museum presents what the novel’s characters used, wore, heard, saw, collected and dreamed of, all meticulously arranged in boxes and display cabinets. It is not essential to have read the book in order to enjoy the museum, just as it is not necessary to have visited the museum in order to fully enjoy the book. The novel was published in 2008, the museum opened in Spring 2012. The Museum of Innocence received the European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) in 2014 given by European Museum Forum in Tallinn, Estonia, beating over 40 candidates.
The Savoy
The Savoy is London’s most celebrated and glamorous hotel, proudly standing on the Northbank of the River Thames. 268 rooms and suites pay tribute to The Savoy’s dual historical influences, featuring either elegant English Edwardian design or sensational Art Deco style, and many afford breath-taking views across the River Thames and of iconic landmarks. Restaurants and bars include Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill for informal yet luxury dining, and the theatrical Beaufort Bar, Best International Hotel Bar 2015.

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September 2016
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