South of Ulus – Ankara, the Ethnography Museum (Etnografya Müzesi) is a real treasure. It’s housed inside a white marble post- Ottoman building (1925) that once served as Atatürk’s offices (hence the equestrian statue out the front). Around the walls are photographs of Atatürk’s funeral, which illustrate a level of genuine national mourning seldom seen in Western cultures.
The museum contains wonderful collections of embroidery, porcelain (the İznik tiles are especially fine) and woodwork, including a stunning 13th-century mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca) from Damsa, near Ürgüp. You’ll be driven mad by the automatic lighting system and the lack of labelling, but the tableaux of a wedding party and circumcision celebration are pretty self- explanatory.
Just next door, the Painting & Sculpture Museum (Resim ve Heykel Müzesi) occupies an equally elaborate building and showcases mainly modern and contemporary Turkish works.