Vehbi Koc Foundation funds new Ottoman art galleries at Met

Pierre-Désiré Guillemet, Def Calan Sarayli Kadın (Lady from the Ottoman Court playing the Def), 1875, Pera Museum, Istanbul. Photo by Pera Muzesi.

Pierre-Désiré Guillemet, Def Calan Sarayli Kadın (Lady from the Ottoman Court playing the Def), 1875, Pera Museum, Istanbul. Photo by Pera Muzesi.

NEW YORK – In recognition of a generous gift of $10 million from the Istanbul-based Vehbi Koç Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the designation of two new galleries for Ottoman art as the Koç Family Galleries. To be 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 created within the borders of the Ottoman Empire between the early 14th and early 20th centuries.

“It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the generosity of the Vehbi Koç Foundation and our honorary trustee Rahmi M. Koç, and also to announce the naming of the Koç Family Galleries,” commented Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum. “The Koç Family Galleries will provide the public with the first comprehensive overview of the multilayered nature of Ottoman patronage. We are delighted that—through the involvement of the Koç family, whose long legacy of philanthropy and wide-ranging interests encompass Ottoman art, history, and culture on many levels—we will be able to present this important message to Museum visitors in beautifully enhanced and improved new galleries, suitable for the display of splendid works of art.”

Emily K. Rafferty, the Metropolitan’s President, continued: “For four decades, the Vehbi Koç Foundation has distinguished itself by providing significant levels of support for education, culture, and health. The Museum is deeply grateful to the Foundation for its support of our new galleries, through which we will reach an international visitorship.”

One gallery, devoted to the Ottomans of Istanbul, will showcase works from the royal court during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (1494-1566), a time when the Ottoman Empire reached the height of its power and prestige. On view will be Iznik ceramics of every major type, masterpieces of calligraphy, paintings, exquisite drawings, and woven silks, velvets, and carpets from the imperial workshops.

The second gallery, which will focus on the greater Ottoman world, will be dedicated to the Museum’s unparalleled collection of Ottoman carpets, textiles, and arms and armor, displayed beneath a carved and gilded 16th-century wooden ceiling. The diversity of carpets from Anatolia and other regions will be shown along with examples of high imperial, fine commercial, and lively tribal styles.

Born in Ankara, Turkey, Rahmi M. Koç received his B.A. in business administration from Johns Hopkins University before joining the family business in 1958. He served as chairman of Koç Holding A.Ş. from 1984 until 2003, and has been its honorary chairman from 2003 until the present. Founded by his father, Vehbi Koç, the business is Turkey’s largest industrial conglomerate.

Mr. Koç is active in philanthropy and in numerous social and professional organizations both in Turkey and abroad. He serves on the boards of the Vehbi Koç Foundation, the first large-scale private foundation in Turkey; Koç University in Istanbul; Rahmi M. Koç Museum and Cultural Foundation; and Vehbi Koç Foundation American Hospital. He is also the honorary chairman and founding member of TURMEPA, the Turkish Marine and Environment Protection Association. He is a former president of the International Chamber of Commerce, former co-chairman of the Business Advisory Council for South East Europe (BAC SEE), and former president of the Turkish Greek Business Council. In addition, he is an honorary fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Koç Family is a recipient of the 2009 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, which is awarded every two years to individuals and families with exceptional and sustained records of philanthropic giving. In 2007, the Koç Family received the Hadrian Award from the World Monuments Fund, given annually to persons or institutions that contribute to the cultural legacy of the world.

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