Many museums are either closed or open under restrictions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to allow art lovers and history enthusiasts to visit museums, the Culture and Tourism Ministry launched a virtual platform in March. Since then around 11.5 million people have visited 32 museums and historical sites in Turkey through the ministry’s digital platform, the country's top culture and tourism official said Tuesday.
The ministry unveiled the digital portal of museums and historical sites at the end of March after the COVID-19 outbreak, which hit the tourism industry hard. The museums, which host millions of rare works of culture and art, have been made accessible to visitors through a virtual environment on the “sanalmuze.gov.tr” website, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said during the opening ceremony of the Tarsus Museum, which will host a diverse collection of artwork, in southern Turkey’s Mersin province.
The virtual museums include the famous Göbeklitepe Archeological Site Museum, known as the world’s oldest temple in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, the War of Independence Museum, housed in the first Turkish Grand National Assembly building of Ankara, the Anatolian Civilization Museum which is also in Ankara, the historical Ephesus Museum in the Aegean province of Izmir, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in the southeastern province of Gaziantep and Museum of Troy in the western province of Çanakkale.
Currently, the platform has been visited by more than 11 million people, with the Göbeklitepe Archaeological Site Museum attracting the most virtual visitors. The prehistoric archaeological site, which is more than 10,000 years old, is a distinguished member of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
On the portal, which makes one feel like they are walking through each venue, visitors can launch their virtual tour from any section of the museum. While history students and art lovers can examine the exhibited works by zooming in 3D format, virtual travelers can also access information on the history of the objects and locations seen in the museums. Those interested can access a myriad of museums, palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries and fortresses included on the Culture and Tourism Ministry's list.