Türkiye's first and only ice museum that opened in the eastern province of Erzurum has become one of the country's focal points for winter tourism, hosting over 100,000 visitors so far.
The Ata Ice Museum, the only establishment of its kind in Türkiye, was opened in cooperation with Ataturk University and the Northeast Anatolian Development Agency (KUDAKA).
It opened in 2020 at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Ataturk University in Erzurum, one of the cities where the winter season is harsh.
Since its opening in 2020, the museum hosted numerous solo exhibits and others under the themes "Republic and Child" and "Salt and Ice (Tuz Buz)." It displayed frozen works such as igloo homes and sculptures of Türkiye, its flag, a phoenix, the Trojan horse, Gobeklitepe and important symbols of Erzurum.
The museum, which contains ice sculptures illuminated with special lighting systems, takes visitors on a journey through the poles bundled up in coats due to the cold temperature inside.
Mustafa Bulat, dean of the Fine Arts Faculty of Ataturk University, told Anadolu Agency that the museum opened its doors to visitors on July 15, 2020. It also has works of art concerned with social issues on display, Bulat said.
"The theme in our museum constantly changes. In about three to five months, the ice works are deformed, and we update our museum with new projects instead," he explained. Noting that many of the museum-goers came from schools, he added: "We can say that more than 100,000 visitors came to our museum."
As it gains international recognition particularly via social media promotions, museum administrators plan to apply for the European Museum Award, making it a well-known brand.
Bulat stressed that they plan to organize an event in February with the participation of around 10 foreign artists by working with a private company.
The museum is constantly active, with students in sculpture departments take elective ice sculptures courses in the museum, he noted.
"While people were unable to leave their homes during the pandemic, children were able to visit this place easily," Bulat said.
He noted that the museum owns eight machines that make blocs of transparent ice to be used for sculptures to be displayed in the two-floor exhibition area of 400 square meters (about 4,300 sq feet) and displayed for the visitors.
The museum is also home to the ice sculptures of important locations in Anatolia, he said. "For example, there is a project from Sanliurfa's Gobeklitepe, which is described as the 'zero point in time' dating back 12,000 years and a site on the UNESCO World Heritage List." As the museum is home to from 250-300 ice works, Bulat said they were always ready to host local and foreign visitors.