The new Urartu Museum building in the south of Van Castle was opened in the eastern province of Van, moving from its former premises after receiving damage during earthquakes that rattled the ancient city on Oct. 23 and Nov. 9, 2011.

Within the scope of a program implemented by the Development Ministry, the museum building was built on an area of 54,000 square meters — 13,000 square meters of which is closed area.

In the opening ceremony of the museum on Aug. 27, where 2,524 artifacts belonging to many periods such as the Seljuks, Ottomans and especially the Urartian, will be exhibited, Van Governor and Deputy Mayor Mehmet Emin Bilmez said that the construction of the museum, infrastructure and landscaping work had a cost of about 21 million Turkish Liras.

Stating that it is one of Turkey’s largest museums, Bilmez said, “The display capacity of the museum is 100,000 artifacts and the annual visitor capacity is 1.5 million. The museum building consists of 23 exhibition halls. The exhibited works will mostly be animating. In addition, archaeology park areas are planned for the education of our children. In this way, children will be able to find answers to questions such as ‘What is a historical monument, how it comes out, how it is restored and how it is exhibited in museums? The Van Museum allows the Urartian to be known more closely in all its aspects.”

Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Nadir Alpaslan stated that Van has a strategic importance for tourism. Saying that they developed special policies and strategies for the development of tourism, he added, “Van is an important area in terms of tourism and development of the country’s economy with the provinces around it. This region has been home to many important civilizations since the beginning of human history. Museums are extremely important for presenting the artifacts of these civilizations to the interest and knowledge of all humanity.”

He said that all artifacts in Van Museum are very valuable, Alpaslan said, “The lion statue smuggled to Israel is the most valuable work here. But there are many valuable works, too. Unfortunately, an important part of our country’s historical and cultural riches have been smuggled abroad. We have been struggling to bring these works back to our country for a long time. In this context, the works taken from this region are exhibited in a corner. This is an important situation in terms of raising awareness of our people. The museum displays artifacts from the first periods of humanity to the present day, especially the Urartian, the Romans, Seljuk, Ottomans and Iran.”

The museum will be free to visit for a while.