Established in 1969 as the first private Turkish trust, the Vehbi Koç Foundation evolved from a grant making institution into a major foundation with operations in 3 areas, namely education, healthcare, culture and arts. The flagship of its cultural operations is the Sadberk Hanim Museum, established in 1988 as the first private Turkish museum, housing a fine collection of Turkish and Islamic artworks as well asan archeological collection based on Anatolian civilizations.

Thus, the Foundation established Turkey's first private museum, the Sadberk Hanım Museum in 1980, followed by the Koç High School in 1988. And after intense preparatory work, completed in a record period of only five years, this was followed by the establishment of Koç University in 1993 and completion of its present campus in Istanbul's Rumeli Feneri district in 2000.

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 (RCAC) in 2005.

Another significant undertaking of VKF is The International Sevgi Gönül Byzantine Studies Symposium, which is organised in memory of the late Sevgi Gönül (1938-2003). Planned to be held every three years by Vehbi Koç Foundation, the symposium aims at sharing the ongoing scientific research in Turkey and abroad on an international platform, at improving the consciousness of cultural heritage through publications, at supporting research in this field as well as supporting the young Byzantinists.

The institutional contemporary collection, funded and managed by the Vehbi Koc Foundation, has been instigated in 2007 by Mr. Ömer Koç, an avid collector of contemporary art himself, with the objective of forming the backbone of a future contemporary art museum in Istanbul, currently in the process of construction.

Furthermore, in an effort to promote Turkish contemporary art, VKF initiated two major projects: namely TANAS-Berlin (2008–2013) and Arter (2010–).

TANAS-Berlin, was established in 2008 as an initiative of the Vehbi Koç Foundation and is managed by René Block. TANAS is an anagram of Sanat, the Turkish word for art.The project space TANAS was meant to follow the continuous developments of contemporary Turkish art and to present them in Berlin - in close cooperation with Turkish persons engaged in the cultural sector and independent from representative duties. TANAS was also meant to provide a platform for the steady discussion and interaction of Turkish artists and curators with the German and international audience. Its mission having been accomplished, the space had been closed at the end of 2013.

A significant project, initiated by the Vehbi Koç Foundation, is "Arter – space for art", which opened in May 2010. Located in the heart of Beyoğlu (formerly Pera), Arter's programmes are created with the aim of encouraging production of contemporary artworks both nationally and internationally, providing a platform of visibility for artistic practices especially in Turkey and producing and presenting thematic contemporary exhibitions from the VKF Contemporary Art Collection. Arter offers artists a sustainable infrastructure for artistic production in terms of funding, exhibiting, promotion and publications, as well as support for educational activities.

Finally, as a grant making institution, the Vehbi Koç Foundation has been supporting major contemporary art projects as follows:
•    The "Adventure Istiklal" series of contemporary exhibitions at the Yapı Kredi Kazim Taskent Art Gallery (owned by the Yapı Kredi Bank, a joint venture between the Koc Group and Italy's Unicredit)
•    The internationally celebrated series of monographs of Turkish contemporary artists, (published by Yapı Kredi Bank's wholly-owned subsidiary Yapı Kredi Culture and Art)
•    Exhibitions at the Operation Room (an art space adjacent to the American Hospital, the healthcare arm of the Vehbi Koc Foundation)
•    The Istanbul Biennial, of which the Koc group is the main sponsor for five editions from 2007.
•    The exhibition entitled "Tactics of Invisibility" and the pavilion project "The Morning Line, İstanbul" both in partnership with TBA21 (Thyssen-Bornemizsa Art Contemporary), Vienna.

Sponsorship of international exhibitions such as:
•    "Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey" Exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (October, 2005 – January, 2006). (The first international exhibition devoted to sumptuous and graphically stunning imperial Turkish robes (kaftans) from the 16th and 17th century.)
•    "Celebrating Rumi: An Evening of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi's poetry and Sufi music" at the Library of Congress and at the Freer Gallery of Art (in 2007,  the UNESCO International Rumi Year). (The event held for celebrating the 800th anniversary of the birth of Rumi, a 13th century poet and mystic philosopher whose  work has not only survived for 800 years, but also has been translated into numerous languages around the world.)
•    "Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C." Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum (in 2008). (The exhibition brought   into focus the cultural enrichment shared by the civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean region.) 
 
As another recent achievement the Vehbi Koç Foundation has provided the funding (10 million dollars) for two new galleries to display Ottoman art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Recently opened in November 2011 and designated as "The Koç Family Galleries" by the Metropolitan Museum, these two galleries display works of art created within the borders of the Ottoman Empire between the early 14th and early 20th  centuries, as part of the Museum's galleries for the art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central and later South Asia.

Exemplary philanthropic activities have resulted in two major awards having been granted to the Koç Family and the Vehbi Koç Foundation, namely: the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy (2009) and the BNP Paribas Grand Prix (2011).

The most recent major cultural project of the Vehbi Koç Foundation is the establishment of a contemporary art museum scheduled to be opened at the end of 2018 in Istanbul's Dolapdere district, close to the city centre. Conceptualised as a multidisciplinary cultural and educational hub, the museum will house the Vehbi Koç Foundation Contemporary Art Collection as well as feature temporary exhibitions and multi-disciplinary events throughout the year, furthering Arter's ongoing programme.

The building's architectural design was executed by Grimshaw Architects (UK); its construction document was prepared by Turgut Alton Architects, İstanbul. The building's construction began in July 2015, and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The new building will hold, besides permanent and temporary exhibitions, a sculpture terrace, performance spaces, dialogue centres, conference/meeting/activity rooms, a library, a conservation laboratory, storage facilities, an art bookstore, as well as service areas for food and refreshments.

Institutions of the Vehbi Koç Foundation

•    Sadberk Hanım Museum (1980)
•    Vehbi Koç and Ankara Research Center (VEKAM, 1994)
•    Suna-İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations (AKMED, 1996)
•    Kaleiçi Museum, Antalya (2000)
•    Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (RCAC, 2005)
•    Semahat Arsel Nursing Education and Research Center (SANERC, 1992)
•    American Hospital (1995)
•    Koç University School of Nursing (1999)
•    Koç School (1988)
•    Koç University (1993)
•    On the 75th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 1998, the Foundation built thirteen elementary schools across the country. Further four schools were added to this project in the 2006-2008 period, bringing their total number to seventeen.

The Vehbi Koç Award

The Vehbi Koç Award is organized and financed by the Vehbi Koç Foundation. Since 2002, the Vehbi Koç Award is given every year to individuals or institutions that have made an outstanding contribution to Turkey's development in the area of education, healthcare or culture.