Turkish museums and archaeological sites were still visited by more than 8.91 million people in 2020, even as the coronavirus outbreak was wreaking chaos on the tourism industry worldwide.
The sites play an important role in protecting cultural heritage, transferring it to future generations and generating a collective memory.
A total of 204 museums, 142 archaeological sites and 296 private museums hosted history aficionados under the auspices of Turkey's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which provided the data.
More than 3.25 million historical artifacts are exhibited in the 204 museums.
An average of 40,000 artifacts have been added to the collections of the museums each year and 11,632 movable cultural assets were put into conservation.
To prepare museums for the 2021 tourism season and better serve local and international tourists, the relevant authorities have conducted a variety of maintenance activities such as renovations, landscaping, labeling and exhibition arrangements.
As part of efforts to increase the number of museums in Turkey, 161 museums were renovated between 2002-2020 and 43 with international recognition were opened.
In addition, 16 newly built museums – including in Adana, Uşak, Kayseri, Mersin and Van provinces – are now welcoming visitors.
Turkey hosts several private museums displaying archaeology, ethnography and fine arts, and more and more have been opened in recent years. There are 296 private museums as of April 2021 and collectors' museums stand at 1,586.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has led to troubles around the world, 26 private museums were opened in the past year, the highest figure ever recorded in Turkey.
Museums and archaeological sites hosted more than 35 million local and foreign tourists in 2019 whereas nearly 9 million people visited in 2020 despite the pandemic.
On March 25, 2020, 3D models of museums and archaeological sites were exhibited online free of charge via www.sanalmuze.gov.tr, and 12,529,246 people visited virtual museums.
Among the virtual museums are Göbeklitepe, Museum Troy, Museum of Independence War, Ephesus and Anatolian Civilizations Museum.
Nadir Alpaslan, deputy minister of culture and tourism, said museums are places where science and arts, as well as underground riches, are exhibited which also shed light on historical periods and help individuals learn more about the past.
Stressing that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism worked to bring Turkish museums to higher standards, Alpaslan said Turkey was home to unique cultural assets and the ministry is doing its best to protect, preserve and advertise its elements.
He noted that a "visitor administration plan" was prepared by the ministry as part of the coronavirus outbreak measures, and social distancing was adopted at museums while hygiene measures were strictly followed.
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