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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. 

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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.  

Contemporary Art

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.

 

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.

Other major contemporary art projects initiated and/or funded by the Vehbi Koç Foundation:

  • Together with Koç Holding, becoming the main sponsor of the Istanbul Biennial organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts for 20 years from 2007 to 2026
  • Supporting the “Adventure Istiklal” series of contemporary exhibitions at the Yapı Kredi Kâzim Taskent Art Gallery
  • The internationally celebrated series of monographs of contemporary artists from Turkey (published by Yapı Kredi Bank’s wholly-owned subsidiary Yapı Kredi Culture and Arts)
  • Exhibitions at the Operation Room (an art space adjacent to the American Hospital, the healthcare arm of the Vehbi Koç Foundation)
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The Vehbi Koç Foundation has also sponsored the following international art exhibitions:

  • “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 kaftans from the 16th and 17th century.)
  • “Celebrating Rûmi: An Evening of Mevlâna Celâleddin Rûmi’s poetry and Sûfi 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 Rûmi, 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.)
  • “Funding of two new galleries for Ottoman Art at the Metropolitan Museum. The Metropolitan Museum of Art designated these two new galleries as “the Koç Family Galleries”. As part of the Museum’s galleries for the art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and later South Asia, scheduled to open in 2011, the two galleries will display works of art created within the borders of the Ottoman Empire between the early 14th and early 20th centuries.

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