Towards A Turkish Library and Museum in New York City…

United States Turkish Library and Museum in New York City (US TL&M)

Gönderen : Yüksel Oktay

Studies have been initiated for the establishment of a United States Turkish Library and Museum for Friendship and Peace in New York City by 2015 with the support of Turkish-Americans, Turks and their friends from around the world. New York City is home to many great Libraries and Museums, including the world famous Public Library at Bryan Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library and Museum and hundreds of others (1). There are also Libraries and Museums dedicated to Greece and Greek history, Jewish History, American Indians and many others, but none for Turks and the Turkish history. Then there is the US Memorial Museum of Holocaust in WDC where a panel with a fabricated Hitler statement is displayed on the Armenian issue, with work proceeding on the establishment of “Armenian Genocide Museum” in WDC, near the Holocaust Museum and the “Armenian Museum” in Los Angeles, both slated to open in 2015.

The first Turkish Library in the United States was established in 1973 by the Federation of Turkish-American Association as part of the 50th anniversary celebration programs. Prof. Talat Halman, the late Prof. Oguz Reha Turkkan and the writer were among the few Turks who donated books to the library. However, the project has not been continued and there is no ibrary. An organization was also established in 1973, Turkish Cultural Center, with the goal of building a Community Center, which has also not been achieved. There is an ongoing study to establish a Turkish-American Community Center in Maryland, near Washington DC, but even though the land has been purchased, the project has not been started yet. A few months ago, a public meeting was held at the site, but details have not been made available on the feasibility and the acceptability of the Project yet.



The Aim of the Institution

The aim of the Institution will be to provide an opportunity for the Turkish-Americans, Americans and the world travelers to the Capital Culture of the World to learn about the true face and the contributions of Turks to the world peace started through the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and the first President of the secular Republic of Turkey (2). It will also serve as a scholarly research center on things Turkish.

2015 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the victory of the Ottoman navy and army in defeating the forces of the allied forces at Dardanelles and the appearance of Mustafa Kemal Pasa in  the world scene who changed the course of history. Other events took place in that year as part of the World War I which will also be commemorated. The opening of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara on April 23, 1920 led to the creation of the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923 and the election of Mustafa Kemal Pasa as its first President who later took the name of Ataturk, the Father of Turks.

The aim of the institution is best told in a story that I just received from BYucel11. I don’t know him, but with his permission, I am including the Turk Gibi Eglenmek – Enjoy Like a Turk, in Turkish, under the commentaries. The story tells one of the real stories about the Turk which I hope the institution will help to preserve in this land of strangers who become citizens as Americans and preserve their heritage. One of the best characteristics of the Turkish people is their friendship, told in many books by friendly authors. Of course, Ataturk pledged his country for peace at home and peace in the world.


A new Society will be established solely for the creation of the US Library and Museum for Friendship and Peace as a non-profit, tax exempt organization. Presently, a few dedicated individuals, both in Turkey and the United States are working on this and are looking for volunteers to provide support in many ways and take positions in the new organization.


Sponsors will be sought to take part in the establishment of the Institution and every US company doing business in Turkey, every Turkish Company doing business in the US, and in fact all companies in both countries will be contacted for the realization of the project. This will be their project through the efforts of volunteers from Turkey, the US and other countries from around the world. At present several dedicated individuals, among them an Architect who helped to establish the Society of Turkish Architects, Engineers and Scientists in New York in 1971 (3), are working together and hoping that other volunteers will join them. The Project was one of the topics discussed with the Hurriyet Daily News Editor in Chief and staff members on February 8, 2011 in Istanbul. Contacts were also made with some Turkish Museums which will be extended to all the Museums in Turkey.


An organizational meeting is scheduled for Sunday, March 9 at Kadir Has University Library in Istanbul and for Thursday, May 19, at Hunterdon County Library,  314 Route 12, Flemington, NJ (908-788 -1444). Both meetings will be devoted to an open discussion on the feasibility of the project and a decision will be made whether to proceed or not. We hope that there will be a wide participation with everyone coming to the meeting with ideas. Then an organizational meeting will be scheduled for June 2011 to establish the Society for US Turkish Library and Museum for Friendship and Peace in NYC.

Proposed Exhibitions and Displays at the TL&M

 Many suggestions have already been received from organizations and individuals, including one from the Ataturk Society in UK and a comment by Cenap Turkgucu, the Turkish-American son of legendary Sait Turkgucu who died on Jan 26, 2011. This is what was received from the ASOUK

It is an honourable and an exciting project and we would like to support it whole heartedly. I am not quite sure what kind of suggestions you have in mind but we will put it up on our blog   and make our members aware straight away.

Regarding what can be on displayed in the museum, I am sure you have many ideas. We have a large archieve of photos and articles relating to Ataturk and his involvement in every aspect of Turkish life. Let us know if we can help in any way.


There are endless opportunities for permanent as well as temporary exhibitions at the Museum. One would be on the “History of Turks.” Another, “Life of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.” “Turks in America and Turkish-Americans”, “Photograph Exhibition on the 100th Anniversary of Bagdat and Hicaz Railroad”, and so on. This is what Cenap Turkgucu wrote:

I am very happy about the plans for the development of a US Turkish Library and Museum for Friendship and Peace in New York.  After “Turk Evi” in Manhattan, it will really be the best institution founded and built by the Turkish/American people in United States. I will be commemorating and recognizing our great leader Ataturk, and the contribution of noteworthy Turkish people who reside and have resided here and Turkey. Majority of the Turkish-Americans living here recognize the importance of representing our rich Turkish ethnic culture in a favorable light. Especially, among many adversaries who believe otherwise.  What better way to combat these antagonists but thru education and peaceful sharing of our culture. One of the visions of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was to unite humanity thru peace and friendship. This friendship could be accelerated thru sharing of fine arts and music.


Having said that, I believe my dad was truly one of the pioneers of this important mission, he was always there with his saz, davul, and friendly personality. I am excited to hear about the  subsequent news of this U.S./Turkish Library & Museum.


A room can be organized to exhibit Sait Abi’s saz, davul and photographs from his many performances at Turkish events in New York and other cities. He was the “Asik Veysel” of America. Other rooms can be organized for the memory of Ahmet Ertegun, the legendary music man, and many other famous Turkish-Americans. A unique and useful exhibition is on display in Antakya, “ Birbirimizle Konusmak : Turkiye ve Ermeninistan’da Kisisel Bellek – Speaking to One Another: Personal memories of the Past in Armenian and Turkey”, Traveling Exhibition in Turkey and Armenia“ . The owner of the ZET ART gallery would like to have the exhibition to travel to the States after it completes its display in Tunceli (Dersim), perhaps in April of this year. It is an oral video presentation on several TV screens on the thoughts of Armenians and Turks on the Turkish-Armenian relations.


Coordination with Turkish, American-Turkish and Turkish-American Civic Organizations in the US.

There are many organizations in the US with their own established agendas with new ones joining their sister organizations. Both the FTAA and ATAA are working to coordinate the activities of their member organizations and also promoting Turkish Culture in the United States. Ten there is the Turkish Coalition of America which recently donated $100,000 for the Haitian earthquake victims (5). These will be contacted with the help of volunteers to provide assistance and funding for the project through their own membership.


          Articles on Museums


1.       Baksi Museum in Bayraktar. Bayburt, By Prof. Husamettin Kocak

2.       Cinema and Theater Museum, Beyoglu, Istanbul by Turker Inanoglu, TURSAK

3.       Archeological Museum in Antakya

4.       Muesum in Gaziantep

5.       Museums in Turkey and Around the World

          Articles on Libraries


1.        New York Public Library

2.       Seattle Public Library

3.       Safranbolu Public Library

4.       Hunterdon County Library

5.       Warren County Public Library

6.       Libraries in Turkey and Around the World


          Books by Turkish-Americans


(1)    The first library in the US was established in Boston


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