Imagine a museum in the middle of the mountains with modern art pieces and a library of 15,000 books in it, which was chosen as the best museum of the year in 2014 by the European Council, with its shape reminding a visitor of the Bayburt Mountains in which it is located. Well, this museum is Baksı. Meaning "shaman" in the Kazakh language, Baksı Museum is a gift from artist Hüsamettin Koçan to his city Bayburt and to all humanity. Koçan, the old dean of Marmara University Faculty of Fine Arts, is an art lover and a respected and well-known figure within the art community.
Baksı Museum emerged as a result of a dream. The current exhibition by Koçan is titled "The Thorn on my Foot." If you understand the meaning of the name of this exhibition, than you can also learn what kind of a dream Baksı emerged with. In short, we can say that family ties, dreams and a love for art enabled Baksı to emerge.
The two metal human statues at the museum's entrance representing Koçan actually reveal everything. About these statues, Koçan says, "One is me who wants to stay in Bayburt, the other is me who wants to leave." Inspiring the villagers as much as he does the art communities, the museum hosts many local and foreign guests every year. Since it is built on top of the mountains 40 kilometers away from Bayburt center, in my eyes it is not a museum but a miracle. The scenery of Çoruh River, the majesty of Bayburt Mountains and the canyon view adds more grandeur to its fantastic appearance. The museum's modern architecture has received many awards.
The museum, which was opened in 2006, was built on 15.56 acres. Museum entrance is free of charge for the people living in the village having the same name as Baksı. In addition to this, there is also a bargain matinee day. On other days the ticket prices range between TL 7 to TL 10 ($2 to $3).
It's possible to reach the museum after a two and a half hour drive after arriving at Erzurum by plane. Currently a helicopter field is also being built inside the museum. This way it is going to be easier for local tourists and foreigners to reach there. There is also a hotel with 30 rooms within the museum complex. The walls of the rooms are made of natural stones and are full of pieces of art. There are no televisions in the rooms, which are decorated in minimalist and pastel colors that were designed to help visitors concentrate on the taste of art and nature.
There is also a second exhibition area and an atelier within the museum complex. In addition to the main exhibition, the works of people who donate their work to the museum are exhibited here. In the atelier, a perfect creative space, courses and work by independent artists go on. In the music garden, there are again pieces many artists have donated to Baksı. Right at the entrance, on the other hand, there is a shop where you can buy souvenirs. Specially designed T-Shirts, notebooks, bags, and dragon shaped metal designs draw one's attention. Cards, pens and replicas of Koçan's drawings abound. Make sure not to leave without buying something from the Baksı Museum.
There is also a pleasant restaurant in the museum complex. Also known as Baksı Cuisine, it is pretty enjoyable. You will love the flavors prepared by Bahriye Aytar, who has worked with Hüsamettin Koçan for 30 years. You must especially try the grape leaves stuffed with curd cheese and the haricot bean dish. Likewise, he travioli with yoghurt and butter called Ziron is delicious. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as well as coffee breaks in this restaurant section with a canyon view is a unique experience. You can lay on the big sofas, read a book during the day in this section and enjoy the sunset in the middle of the solitude. By the way, I must add before I forget, there is also a field in the museum's garden. Some of the products come to your table from this field.
Another experience you will have while you are at Baksı will be watching the stars. You can catch a glimpse of shooting stars in this experience I call the "Star Safari." It's even possible to see the Milky Way on this desolate hill away from the city lights. Very soon Baksı visitors will have a chance to observe the museum closely with a telescope which will be put inside the museum. On the other hand, during the day you can go rafting on the Çoruh River, you can visit the Baksı village and buy the famous honey and beans, visit the wishing tree Hüsamettin Koçan is protecting and tending outside the museum and tie a string on it to make a wish.
In short, there are many things to take you away from the stress of the modern world and connect you with art and nature when you go and visit the Baksı Museum. I congratulate the art lover, valuable educator who made young people love art, and entrepreneur Koçan for bringing this museum to life. Visit Baksı at your first opportunity. No matter what your occupation is, be one of the people who have supported this museum as a Baksı volunteer.