A subsidiary of the Vehbi Koç Foundation, Arter was opened in 2010 with the aim of providing a sustainable infrastructure for producing and exhibiting contemporary art. At its building on Istiklal Street, Istanbul’s main pedestrian artery for culture and arts, Arter presented 35 solo and group exhibitions to date with accompanying publications, talks, performances and workshops; and provided support for the production of 183 artworks in the framework of its programme.
Arter has moved to its new home in Istanbul’s Dolapdere district in 2019, the year also marking the 50th anniversary of the Vehbi Koç Foundation. At its new building designed by Grimshaw Architects, London, Arter will present exhibitions from but not limited to its collection as well as performances and events across disciplines, expanding the range of its programmes.
Arter's new building has 18,000 square meters of indoor area and houses, in addition to exhibition galleries, a terrace, performance halls, learning areas, a library, a conservation laboratory, an arts bookstore, and a café.
Arter's former building on Istiklal Street is currently under renovation and will be re-opened also in September 2019 as a yet-to-be-named exhibition space operated by the Vehbi Koç Foundation.
Established on 17 January 1969, the Vehbi Koç Foundation is active in the fields of education, healthcare, and culture and arts. The Foundation aims to contribute to the rapid development of Turkey and to serve the country by setting an example for “the best” in all of its activities and via sustainable and reproducible models. As the first private Turkish trust, the Foundation runs many pioneering institutions in their respective fields including The Koç School, Koç University, American Hospital, Sadberk Hanim Museum and Arter.
The Foundation’s activities in the field of culture started with the establishment of Turkey’s first private museum, the Sadberk Hanım Museum in 1980, housing a fine collection of Turkish and Islamic artworks as well as an archaeological collection based on Anatolian civilizations.
The Foundation further extended its activities in the field of culture with the establishment of the Vehbi Koç and Ankara Research Center (VEKAM) in 1994, the Suna-İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations (AKMED) in 1996, the Kaleiçi Museum in Antalya’s old city quarter in 2000 and, under the aegis of Koç University, the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) in 2005. Another significant undertaking of the Foundation is the International Sevgi Gönül Byzantine Studies Symposium, which is held every three years in memory of the late Sevgi Gönül (1938-2003), who was an avid supporter of the Byzantine studies.
The Vehbi Koç Foundation’s activities in the field of contemporary art started in 2005, in line with the strategic plan devised following the appointment of Melih Fereli as Culture and Arts Advisor to the Foundation. As part of the new strategy, numerous exhibition and publication projects were supported; international collaborations and projects were initiated.
The most important manifestation of this strategy in terms of sustainability and long-term thinking is Arter, the Foundation’s flagship institution in the field of contemporary art. Arter started its activities in 2010 at its building on Istanbul’s Istiklal Street, as a “space for art”. After 35 exhibitions with accompanying publications and events, the institution has moved to its new home in Istanbul’s Dolapdere neighbourhood in 2019. At its new building designed by Grimshaw Architects, London and scheduled to open in September 2019, the year also marking the 50th anniversary of the Vehbi Koç Foundation, Arter will present exhibitions from but not limited to its collection as well as performances and events across disciplines, expanding the range of its programmes.
In 2007, the Vehbi Koç Foundation started an international contemporary art collection, which has grown under Arter’s management and care to include over 1,350 contemporary works of art (as of 2019) and continues to expand. A large number of pieces from the collection are lent each year to leading art institutions and galleries across the world. Along with the inauguration of Arter’s new building in September 2019, the collection will be opened to the public through exhibitions and digital channels.
The collection consists of works by international artists from 1960s onwards, produced in various media including painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, installation, sound, light and performance; furthermore, the collection features an additional focus on the progress of contemporary art from Turkey, in dialogue with the neighbouring wider geography and elsewhere in the world.
In 2008, the Vehbi Koç Foundation founded TANAS in Berlin as a project space for contemporary art from Turkey in collaboration with Edition Block. The primary objective of TANAS was to support and promote the production and exhibition of contemporary works by artists predominantly from Turkey in an international context.
As a noteworthy endeavour TANAS functioned for five years, as had been planned at the outset, until its closure in 2013. In these five years, the space featured 22 personal and group exhibitions that were accompanied by artist talks, seminars and special guided tours, rendering TANAS a centre focusing on contemporary art from Turkey, with the objective of fulfilling its premise of offering a comprehensive production and discussion platform for artists, curators, authors and students.
The Foundation also supported the realisation of the exhibition “Tactics of Invisibility” in collaboration with TBA21 (Thyssen-Bornemizsa Art Contemporary). Bringing together works by 15 artists from Turkey, the exhibition was shown in TANAS, Berlin and Arter, Istanbul following its first edition in TBA 21, Vienna.
Another major international exhibition project supported by the Foundation, namely “The Morning Line”, again was realised in collaboration with TBA21 as part of 2010 Istanbul European Cultural Capital events in 22 May 2010.
The Vehbi Koç Foundation has also sponsored the following international art exhibitions: