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Istanbul Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Istanbul Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Istanbul Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Istanbul Rahmi M. Koç Museum, museum of industry, transport and communication affiliated with the Rahmi M. Koç Museology and Culture Foundation. Located in the Istanbul district of Hasköy on the left bank of the Golden Horn, the museum consists of the historical Lengerhane building, the old Hasköy Shipyard and adjacent open-air exhibition area immediately opposite. When it opened in the Lengerhane building in December 1994, it was Turkey’s first museum of industry, and grew to its current size later after the shipyard and other annexes were purchased and transformed into exhibition spaces.

The Lengerhane building is thought to have been built during the era of Sultan Ahmed III (early eighteenth century) over the remnants of twelfth century Byzantine foundations. The building, which was used as a foundry for producing anchors and rodes, is known to have been renovated during the era of Selim III (late eighteenth century). In the Republican Era, it was used by the Cibali Tobacco Factory as a tobacco warehouse for many years, but left to its own fate after extensive fire damage in 1984. Subsequently, the Tekel (Turkish State Monopoly of Alcohol and Tobacco Products) began to use the garden as an alcohol depot. Along with the historical Lengerhane building, the site also includes an adjacent, small wooden roof-enclosed outbuilding and an inner courtyard surrounded by stone walls, which were bought by the Rahmi M. Koç Museology and Culture Foundation in 1991. After two and a half years of restoration work, the museum opened to the public in 1994.
  Covering a total area of 11,250 square meters, the Hasköy Shipyard is as significant as the Lengerhane from the point of view of industrial archaeology. It was established in 1861 for the maintenance and repair of vessels from the Bosphorous transport company, Şirket-i Hayriye, starting out as several workshop buildings. Over time it expanded, and a 45-meter timber slipway with a steam traction winch was added. In 1910, the winch was converted to electrical power. The Istanbul city line steamers, named “Kocataş” and “Sarıyer”, funnel numbers 75 and 76, were built here in 1938. Due to changes in sea transport regulations, the Hasköy Shipyard changed hands frequently until the 1980s. By the time it was bought by the Rahmi M. Koç Museology and Culture Foundation in 1996, it had fallen into disuse. The shipyard, along with the 14 buildings enclosing it in a U-shape, were restored in keeping with their original style and opened in 2001 as an extension of the museum’s exhibition area.

Last to be added was the area next to the shipyard, reaching from the street, Hasköy Caddesi, to the Golden Horn, which also became an open air exhibition area.

A large number of the items in the museum are compiled from the personal collection of Rahmi M. Koç. Other museum exhibits are donated or borrowed from various organizations and individuals. The core of the collection is made up of original pieces, together with their models and scientific and mechanical objects. The museum’s collections are exhibited under the headings, Atatürk, Road Transport, Rail Transport, Navigation, Aviation, Living History, Machinery, Communication, Models and Toys, Scientific Devices and Letterpress Printing. The exhibits, which predominantly relate to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, include land, air, sea and rail vehicles, models and engines, clocks and their mechanisms, astronomical instruments, binoculars, microscopes, abacuses, calculators, printing presses, telephones, gramophones, radios, phonographs, cine cameras, cameras, televisions, bicycles, motorbikes and pushchairs. The open-air exhibition space contains classic cars, a huge Turgut Alp winch, the “B-24 Liberator” and other aircraft, the anchored “Fenerbahçe” ferry and the “TCG Uluçalireis” submarine.

Some exhibitions at the Istanbul Rahmi M. Koç Museum

İhap Hulusi Görey Private (February-March 2002)
Blue Exhibition (September-November 2002)
Halfdan Was Here (November 2002-January 2003)
Dream Machines (May-June 2003)
The Probability of Harmony (December 2004-February 2005)
The Genius of Leonardo (November-December 2006)
Exhibition of Air, Land and Marine Vehicles Painting Exhibition (February-March 2007)
Vehbi Koç - The Story of a Century 1901-1996 (February-March 2008)
The Brain: Mysterious Journey (April-June 2008)
From Dolmabahçe to Anıtkabir 1938-1953 (December 2008-March 2009)
Henry Kupjack Miniature Rooms (December 2008-September 2009)
Yalvaç Ural Tin Toys (April-September 2009)
Circumnavigation with Nazenin IV (June 2009-June 2010)
Ships and the Sea (14 November 2009)
Mysteries of the Deep Blue (December 2009-March 2010)
Zeugma–Bridge: Jale Kutadgobilik (April-May 2010)
Istanbul Piers and Ferries (September-November 2010)
Sea and Istanbul (February-November 2011)
Invisible Musicians (February-June 2011)
Daniel Buren Voiles Toiles (September 2011-January 2012)
Magic Realism – Rugs and Kilims (December 2011-March 2012)
Yenikapı Excavations (April-September 2012)
Motoring Legends in Istanbul (October 2012-March 2013)
Ontraxs! 2012 Winner (November 2012-June 2013)
Here Comes the Sun (November 2012-July 2013)
Medieval Ports from the Aegean to the Black Sea (April-October 2013)
Piri Reis at Tersane-i Amire After Five Centuries (July-October 2013)
Models Exhibition (December 2013-June 2014)
Bridging Two Continents – Bosphorus (October 2013-June 2014)
Yersiz Yurtsuz (July-October 2014)
Hector of Troy (November 2014-March 2015)
Dolls House Exhibition (November 2014–June 2015)
Naval Battles in the Dardanelles Campaign (March–December 2015)
Then & Now Gallipoli Campaign (March–December 2015)
Lighthouses (April–May 2016)
On the Ground and in the Sky (June–October 2016)
In the Wake of Ships (December 2017–February 2018)
Miraculous (February–March 2018)
God Speed (April–June 2018)
Distant Seas (June–November 2018)

In addition to weekend workshops, the museum organizes a number of different educational programs aimed at the school curriculum. There is also a peripatetic museum project, called “Müzebüs” (Museumbus), for students who are too far away to visit the museum.

In 1996, the Istanbul Rahmi M. Koç Museum received the European Museum Forum (EMF) European Museum of the Year Award, followed in 2001 by the Arts and Culture Grand Prize awarded by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

When I was a child—I forget how old—my father, Mr. Vehbi Koç, returned from a trip to Germany and presented me with my first electrical toy train. This was the start of my passion for collecting mechanical and industrial objects. Over the years the collection expanded so much that my homes, offices and warehouses were overflowing.

When the Koç Group entered into a closer relationship with large, worldwide, industrial concerns in the 1950s, I noticed that some of the companies had museums where they displayed their products from the very first model. I was much impressed by this practice and considered doing the same with our own products. However, I thought that such a museum in Turkey would be of little interest except to industrialists. The idea remained with me and, whenever I went abroad, I would make a point of visiting scientific and industrial museums. I remember in particular the "Deutsches Museum" in Munich and the "Science Museum" in London. But it was when I saw the "Henry Ford Museum" in Detroit that I immediately decided to gather all my collection under one roof. After receiving positive views and much encouragement from my colleagues, my mind was made up.

I started looking for a suitable location and simultaneously increased my collecting activities. I bought anything I found agreeable, pleasing, or which attracted my interest. Not every piece was in good condition, so a workshop had to be established for their restoration. Meanwhile the search for a suitable site in Istanbul continued.

Eventually Dr. Bülent Bulgurlu, who was been of great assistance to me in these matters, told me of an alcohol storage building belonging to Tekel at Hasköy on the Golden Horn. We went together to see the building and it left a lasting impression on us. With foundations dating back to the twelfth century, the “Lengerhane” building had been used in the 1730s as a foundry for making anchors and other castings for the navy. It was now a total ruin, having been destroyed by a fire in 1984 while it was being used for tobacco storage by the Tekel. Only the garden was still in use as an alcohol depot. We bought the building in 1991 and had it restored to its original state by 1993. From the colorful appearance of its brickwork, it could easily be mistaken for a mosque, or a Byzantine church.

The Rahmi M. Koç Museum was opened to visitors in 1994. In 1996 it was honored to receive a special award from the Council of Europe’s “European Museum of the Year Award”.

In accordance with our expansion plans, in 1996 we purchased the Hasköy Shipyard, which was being privatized. The shipyard was founded in 1880 and is just across the road from the present museum. This proximity and its water frontage made it an ideal site. Like the Lengerhane, it is a Grade II listed historical building. It opened in July 2001, and exhibits mostly full-size objects that, we believe, will be of great interest to both Turkish and foreign visitors.

Much effort has been expended by many of my colleagues, technical staff, academicians and professors to bring the museum to its present state. Also universities, schools and the armed forces have given great support and assistance in many ways including supplying exhibition pieces. Many valuable items have been donated or loaned by museum visitors, sometimes by our acquaintances and sometimes by others. I would like to thank them all for their generosity. I would particularly like to express my thanks and deep gratitude to the Boğaziçi University and the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute for playing such a leading role in all this. It is true that a lot of time, effort and cost have been expended, but this is amply repaid by the appreciation of the visitors and increase in their numbers over time.
Rahmi M. Koç
Abadan Unat, Nermin

Political scientist who received the Vehbi Koç Award for education in 2012.