The interest in collecting historical artifacts in the Ottoman period dates back to the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror, but the institutional emergence of museums coincides with the establishment of Istanbul Archaeological Museums in 1869 as Müze-i Hümayun (Imperial Museum). Müze-i Humayun, housing the archaeological works collected in the Hagia Irene Church, is the foundation of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The Tiled Kiosk built during the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror, was converted into a museum because of the insufficiency of Hagia Irene. The Tiled Kiosk which is still under the administration of Istanbul Archaeological Museum, was restored and opened its doors in 1880.
When Osman Hamdi Bey was assigned as the museum director in 1881, there was a breakthrough in Turkish museology. Osman Hamdi Bey excavated in Mount Nemrud, Myrina, Kyme, other Alolia Necropolises and Lagina Hekate Temple and as a result of excavations he conducted in Sayda (Sidon) between 1887-1888, he reached the necropolis of King Sidon and returned to Istanbul with many sarcophagi, especially the famous one; Alexander the Great.
The oldest building (1472 CE) in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum complex is the The Tiled Kiosk. The Tiled Kiosk Museum, which currently displays examples of Turkish tiles and ceramics, is one of the oldest examples of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul.
The building, which was used as the Museum of Ancient Oriental Works, was constructed by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883 as Sanayi-i Nefise school, that is, the Academy of Fine Arts. The architect of the building was Alexander Vallaury, who would later build the Istanbul Archaeological Museum Classic building.
The Archaeological Museum stands out as one of the rare buildings constructed as a museum in that time period in the world. It is one of the most beautiful and splendid examples of neo-classical architecture in Istanbul. It reads ‘Asar-ı Atika Museum’ (Museum of Ancient Works) in Ottoman language on the pediment. The writing on the tughra belongs to Sultan II. Aldulhamid.
A new museum building was needed to display magnificent works such as Iskender Tomb, crying women Tomb, Lycia Tomb and Tabnit tomb, which were brought to Istanbul from Sidon King Necropolis excavation performed by Osman Hamdi Bey between 1887 and 1888. Across from The Tiled Kiosk, Istanbul Archeological Museums Classical Building, built by the famous architect Alexandre Vallaury, was opened in June 13th 1891.
Halls 1, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 located downstairs of the Directorate of Istanbul Archaeological Museums, all the halls on the upper floor, Assos Exhibition Hall and Istanbul Neighbor Culture: Thrakia, Bithynia – Biyzantium Exhibition Halls on the ground floor of the annex building are closed for visitors.