There is famous Turkish saying, “Dreams keep men alive.” You’ll have a vision someday or a dream takes shape in your mind. Years pass and you don’t even remember that dream. In fact it hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s still standing at some place in your mind but you just can’t recall it. Hüsamettin Kocan too had a dream, stablishing a museum in his village where he was born and raised. He never forgot his dream and despite many hardships he faced in life he built the museum that he was dreaming about in 2010. A few years after opening the museum, in 2014 to be precise, it received the Council of Europe Museum Prize. This prize is given by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually since 1977 to museums that have made a significant contribution to the understanding of European cultural heritage.
In this article I want to write about an artist who never stopped pursuing his dreams, Hüsamettin Kocan and his mangnificent museum, Baksı Museum, which has been in my “Must Visit” list since I have heard about it.
Hüsamettin Koçan was born to an immigrant family which could only see the father once in two years. His father wished his sons to have education and forced them to continue their studies and he always wished to see them become engineers. To fulfil his father’s wish Hüsamettin came to Istanbul to study engineering but then he entered the exam of fine arts school and passed it. When he told his father about the result and his own wish to study arts, his father accepted that and said “It is alright, it is your life so do as you wish.”
He was against the fact that art existed at specific centers and during his art carrier he made many different attempts to take the art out from those places and to the public. With his projects titled “Art Truck” and “Art Tent” he brought art to Anatolia. He opened up exhibitions at Alanya Dockyard and Çankırı Salt Mine. His big private exhibitions were opened up in Anatolian cities. His life motto was “The art should reach where the people live.“ so he decided to establish the Baksı museum in his own village, Bayraktar, to provide employment for the people of the village who at that time were leaving their hometown to seek jobs.
The museum is located in Bayraktar village which is about 45 Km distance from Bayburt, a small city in the east of Turkey. The museum complex area is 40 acres and has 7000 m2 indoor space . It has exhibition centers, conference hall with 250 person capacity, a library with more than 10000 books and guest house.
The project was in his mind since the 80s and it came into life in 2000 and in 2001 the construction started. The Project value is around 8 to 10 million Turkish Liras but by adding some donations and sponsorship he only spent 3.5 to 4 million TL and without any help from the government. Despite many difficulties after 10 years of construction the museum was finally opened up in July 2010.
Baksı means healer, helper or protector in Kazakh and Kirghiz languages and has its roots in the original family of Turkish languages. The architectual style is also quite unique and different same as its name. It is influenced by the traditional clay chimneys which allows light to enter a building.
He erases the dividing line between the art and craftsmen and believes that there is no hierarchy in art so he creates and produces art with fellow villagers in the museum itself. The villagers get handcrafts courses and vocational training, weave rugs, keep watchs, and host the guests. The women, children, artists and immigrants are the ones that are the most interested to visit the museum.
What you will see in the museum?
Avant garde videos, installations from famous artists, pots made of cooked soil, post modern pictures, bronze bells and more.
The museum and its foundation are nonprofit organizations and aim to create their revenues from the income of their published books, guest house, woven rugs and the clothes made of traditional fabric Ehram. They also aim to revive cultural tourism potential in the region with their guest house, their workshops and ateliers.
Another interesting aspect of the story behind this museum is that there were some rumors about it since its beginning. Some people said that Hüsamettin Koçan found a gold mine and he is secretly digging for gold. He constructed a tower to spy on Russia for the Israelis. He is building a temple and some even say that he is building some sort of space base. Turkish people have a great imagination some would say 🙂
During his childhood when the village was covered by snow and there was nobody around, he and his brother went out to look at the horizon and wait for their father’s return. Since those days, he wanted to prevent immigration and many years later he did this museum for the people who live in his village. It feels goof to know that there are still people who never stop pursuing their dreams.