Modernity, Hygiene and Display of the Body
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This article focuses on health museums as a building type introduced to the architectural medium at the beginning of 20th century by modern thinking, the ideal of creating a healthy society as a guarantee of progress and development. Health museums provided representation for concepts of modernity and hygiene in a built environment by being spaces that displayed the human body and exhibits related to diseases, hygiene, and medical developments. A modest building in scale and content, the Izmir Health Exhibition building of the Izmir Fair was analyzed in this study to show how it contributed to 1920s and 1930s modern architecture in Turkey and what were the representational meanings of the messages transmitted. The existence of this building, constructed in 1937 in Izmir, should be understood in the context of health policies from all around the world, social engineering efforts, and the process of modernization. The building is an example of a use of modern architecture, but of a type that is waning in popularity in today's contemporary world. Looking back at this building today helps us understand the rising and declining value of modernity in the discourse of hygiene and its effect on the field of architecture. The contribution of the Izmir Health Exhibition building to early modern Turkish architecture is discussed with reference to similar exhibitions and museums around the world.