Sunday, January 25, 2009
The exterior of the main building at Santral power station.
Last night, we took a fieldtrip along with our fellow Fellows Amanda, Ivana, and Asa. We visited a place called SantralIstanbul. "Santral" refers to the fact that the building was the first power station built by the Ottoman empire (so it was the central one of course). It has now been converted into a museum and art gallery. We did not really know what to expect, but they run a free shuttle from Taksim square near us out to the power plant, which is about 20 minutes away, and there are restaurants in the complex (including a branch of our favorite pizza place, Otto). The museum and gallery space is also free admission, so we decided it was worth a trip to check it out. It turned out to be way cooler and more interesting than anyone expected! Because we were thinking of it as an art gallery, neither Peter or I took our cameras along, but luckily Amanda did. I have shamelessly stolen some of her pictures to post here!
The building is huge, and well-renovated. They preserved the interior of the main power-production rooms in the state they were in in the 1950s when the plant was closed. We were there after dark, which was very cool because they have installed red and blue lights that give the space an interesting feel. First you are directed up an escalator (which is clear, so you can see all the moving parts inside of it, very neat), then along a catwalk above all of the machinery:
Peter inspects the machinery.
From there, you enter the control room, where you are free to wander around and push buttons, pull levers, etc. Very fun!
The Control Room. A thousand things to push or pull!
Asa, Peter and Ivana take control.
Amanda, Ivana and Candace take a turn.
Then you are allowed to go downstairs and walk in around all of the big machinery that you have already seen from above. In another level below that one, they have set up a small "museum" about electricity. It is really a series of experiments like in science museums in the U.S. --- Van de Graf generators to make your hair stand on end, bicycles that you pedal to run electrical appliances, things like that. As Ivana said, it is "for children," but we still spent an hour or so running around to play with all the stations! One of the neatest things they had was a big screen that projected body-heat sensor images of whoever was standing in front of the camera:
Wow, Candace's nose is cold!
The other half of the main building has been cleared out and made into an exhibition space.
A large (several storeys-tall) sculpture inside the art gallery section.
The two exhibitions up currently are photography made in the 1960s, mostly in Germany, that documented the student and workers' riots there. They were quite good, but we had spent so much time in the electrical area that we had to kind of speed through it. But we will definitely return there, and will happily take any and all guests who are interested.