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 "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.
The Rahmi M. Koç Museum was opened to visitors in 1994. In 1996 it was honoured 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 make it an ideal site. Like the Lengerhane, it is listed as a Grade II historical building. We opened it in July 2001, and exhibit there mostly full-size objects that, we believe, will be of great interest to visitors, both Turkish and foreign.
Much effort has been expended by many of my collaborators, technical people, academics and professors to bring the museum to its present state. Also universities, schools and the armed forces have given great support and assistance by supplying exhibition pieces and in other ways. Many valuable items have been donated or loaned by visitors to the museum, sometimes anonymously. I would like to thank them all for their generosity. I would particularly like to express my thanks and deep gratitude to the Bosphorus University and the Kandilli Observatory for having pioneered such a valuable trend. 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 of their numbers with time.