Following the proclamation of the Republic, Turkish museums developed considerably, mainly due to the importance Atatürk had attached to the research and exhibition of artifacts of Anatolia. When the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed, there were only the İstanbul Archaeology Museum called the “Asar-ı Atika Müzesi”, the Istanbul Military Museum housed in the St. Irene Church, the Islamic Museum (Evkaf-ı Islamiye Müzesi) in the Suleymaniye Complex in Istanbul and the smaller museums of the Ottoman Empire Museum (Müze-i Humayun) in a few large cities of Anatolia.
The Turkish Archaeological Museum (Türk Asar-ı Atikası), which was established during the first years of the Republic, carried out studies to gather, collate, catalogue and protect archaeological and ethnographical finds. In many provinces of Anatolia, monumental buildings such as ancient churches, mosques and caravanserais were restored and converted into museums. Topkapı Palace, which was converted into a museum with the furniture and works of art on the premises, was opened to the public in 1927. The same year, the Islamic Museum was reorganized as the “Museum of Turkish and Islamic Works of Art” and the Mevlana Dervish Lodge in Konya was also converted into a museum.
The construction of the Ankara Ethnographical Museum, the first building designed as a museum, was completed in 1930. New museums were established in Bursa, Adana, Manisa, Izmir, Kayseri, Antalya, Afyon, Bergama, and Edirne. The Hittite Museum, which was established in the Mahmut Pasha Bedesten in Ankara in 1940, was restored and renovated and converted into “Museum of Anatolian Civilizations” in 1968.
Today, there are 99 museum directorates attached to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 151 private museums in 36 provinces and 1,204 private collections.