The Museum of Innocence
at Somerset House

27 January – 3 April 2016
Daily 10.00-18.00 (last entry 17.15)
Late night Thursdays & Fridays until 21.00 (last admission 20.15)
Courtyard Rooms, South Wing
Free admission

Somerset House is delighted to present a collaboration with Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk which sees a unique new version of his collection The Museum of Innocence, the physical manifestation of his novel of the same name installed at Somerset House.

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 focuses 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 which made its London debut at the BFI Southbank on 26 January, 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. 

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September 2016
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