Been There, Do This: Hair Museum in Avanos, Turkey

Galip Korukcu has been collecting women’s hair for 40 years.
Credit: 2019 Erik R. Trinidad

Deep in a cave in the town of Avanos, Turkey, I found myself in quite the hairy situation — literally.

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I held my breath as Galip Korukcu, a fifth-generation Turkish potter — and a gray-haired Albert Einstein doppelganger, no less — inched closer to my tresses with a massive pair of cutting shears. With one flick of the wrist, he snipped a lock about 2 inches from my scalp, holding it up to the light in admiration.

You see, Korukcu is not only a talented potter in Turkey. He’s also the owner and curator of the world’s largest “museum” of hair. This unconventional collection is repeatedly cited in “Weirdest Museum” listicles and has even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Korukcu’s fascination with women’s hair began 40 years ago, when his first sample was given to him by a dear friend who was moving away from Avanos. And since 1979, Korukcu has been adding to the collection: His former pottery studio, now the location of the museum (about a 10-minute drive from his current workshop), has more than 16,000 samples. Hair of every length and color adorns the walls, ceiling and archways of the dimly lit cave, leaving only the floor and pathway bare.

Lest you ask why anyone would trust giving a chunk of her hair to this Einstein lookalike, Korukcu provides an enticing offer — the names, phone numbers and addresses of each woman are hung along with their hair sample, and Korukcu chooses one donor per year to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Cappadocia.

Now, did I really think I had a chance of being chosen as a lucky winner among 16,000? Not necessarily. But of my varied experiences in Turkey, I have to say that this one was a cut above the rest.

Note: My visit to Chez Galip pottery studio was included as part of a weeklong Turkey itinerary from tour operator Flo Tours that included Istanbul, Kayseri and Cappadocia.

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