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.
Eventually Dr. Bülent Bulgurlu, who was been of great
assistance to me in these matters, told me of an alcohol storage
building belonging to the Monopoly Administration at Hasköy on the
Golden Horn. It was now a total ruin, having been destroyed by a
fire in 1984 while it was being used for tobacco storage by the
Monopoly Administration. The garden was abandoned and littered with
barrels. We bought the building in 1991 and had restored it to its
original state by 1993. From its appearance, 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 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
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.