Rahmi M. Koç Museum is hosting the 'World Dolls Exhibition' as of September 28. The exhibition, which sheds light on the journey of dolls, which are the most important milestones of the toy industry, from Antiquity to the present, is very special, from wooden dolls of the 18th century to rag dolls of Anatolia, from Asian and African faith dolls to fashion dolls, and even to festival dolls in silk dress from the Far East. presents a selection to its visitors
From ancient times to the 21st century, babies are objects of belief and culture, as well as children's toys. While in the West there were wax dolls used for witchcraft in the Middle Ages, Rönesans wooden dolls with ornate lace dresses, made for the fashion curiosity of noble women, appear. The dolls produced by the local peoples of different geographies with traditional methods are replaced by the dolls that are mass produced from porcelain and plastic in large factories and that are produced at a lower cost with the industrial revolution.
The "World Dolls Exhibition", curated by Rahmi M. Koç Museum's Restorator Serra Kanyak, after a comprehensive and meticulous preparation process spanning three years, is the "World Dolls Exhibition", from wooden dolls of the 18th century to rag dolls of Anatolia, Asia and Africa. offers a special selection of different types of dolls that have entered the literature, from belief dolls to fashion dolls, from horror dolls to traditional world dolls and vending dolls. The exhibition both explains the usage purposes of the baby concept since prehistoric times and opens up the experience of the visitors to the great transformation that the baby industry has undergone over the centuries.
“Not to mention baby”
The founder of the museum, Rahmi M. Koç, pioneered the "World Dolls Exhibition". Included in the project to exhibit the dolls in his personal collection, Koç bought various dolls to make up for the deficiencies during his travels abroad during this period. Koç's personal collection includes 18th century Neapolitan dolls, 19th century Asian dolls and puppets, and precious porcelain dolls, automaton dolls, Santon dolls and puppets dating to the early 20th century.
Stating that babies should not be viewed as just toys, Koç said, “While museums used to hold exhibitions only on their own fields of expertise, now they open exhibitions on almost any subject that may be of interest. At first glance, it may be thought that the doll exhibition has anything to do with industrialism, but it should not be forgotten that toy making is an industry on its own. We, as the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, wanted to bring an action in a different way to the people of Istanbul and our regular visitors in our quarter-century history. On this occasion, we discussed the subject of baby, which is very broad and deep. No matter what kind of doll it is, in which country it is made, no matter what panacea it is, doll making is an art and industry in itself with its clothing, quality and presentation. It is a reflection of the culture of the country. After three years of hard work, purchasing, borrowing, gift-giving, in-depth research and various travels, we were able to put this exhibition together. I hope that our visitors of all nationalities, all ages, girls and boys, will visit our exhibition with curiosity and admiration, and on this occasion, they will learn a lot about babies. After all, we were all babies one day, loved and experienced that little phase. Therefore, we should not say 'baby'," he said.
“We will erase the effects of the pandemic with this exhibition”
The opening of the “World Dolls Exhibition” was held with a press conference held at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum on September 28. At the press conference, Rahmi M. Koç Museum General Manager Mine Sofuoğlu, Curator Serra Kanyak, the main sponsor of the exhibition Zen Pırlanta, and co-sponsors Boyner Group and Ülker came together.
In her speech, Mine Sofuoğlu, General Manager of Rahmi M. Koç Museum, said that the exhibition, which came to life as a result of three years of meticulous work, has a great meaning for them. Sofuoğlu said, “Since the day we were established as the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, we have been trying to provide our visitors with moments that will explore life in all its aspects and activate their imagination and research feelings by hosting objects from many different areas. Like all museums, we were closed for a long time last year due to the pandemic. Although we are physically separated from culture and art lovers, the digital world has allowed us to maintain the bond between us. In this process, I think we have gained a different field of experience as museums. With digitalization, it has become easier to reach our young audience, especially. As in every field, there is a change in museology. But we all need a physical experience. We are offering a different experience to our visitors with the World Dolls Exhibition in these days when we are slowly leaving the pandemic climate behind us. Being aware of the fact that toy making is an industry in itself, as an industrial museum, we have discussed the subject of dolls in a very broad and in-depth manner. We think that babies are not only toys but also a sociological element, a work of art and an important branch of the toy industry along with mass production. I believe that everyone will visit our exhibition, which consists of beautiful examples of the development of babies from the past to the present, with curiosity and admiration. On behalf of our entire museum team, we would like to express our gratitude once again to our founder, Mr. Rahmi M. Koç, for his invaluable contribution and support to the exhibition project, and I would like to thank our curator Serra Kanyak for his meticulous work and hard work.”
Visited seven countries, the collection's deficiencies were completed
Curator Serra Kanyak shared information about the exhibition's formation process spanning three years and the objects in the collection. Kanyak said: “When we decided to organize a doll exhibition, there were already various dolls in Rahmi Bey's personal collection and in the collections of the Istanbul and Ankara Rahmi Koç Museums. However, in order to create a 'World Dolls Exhibition', it was necessary to have a much larger collection. First, 'What is a baby?' I researched the subject in depth. I identified our shortcomings in order to obtain different types of dolls that entered the world baby literature, and then, together with Rahmi Bey, we started to collect the missing dolls in our collection. Rahmi Bey bought many dolls from Sweden, France, England and America. I've also traveled to Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia to research and buy babies; I visited various museums, exhibitions, antique and vintage markets. We bought dolls that were missing from our collection by following various auctions in England and America. As this process continued, our collection was enriched with the donations of our close museum friends and the dolls they lent. The supply of the main collection constituting our exhibition was completed in 1 year, but our total preparation time was 3 years with the work we did to get it ready for the exhibition. We also present a historical story in the exhibition, in which we chronologically convey the purpose of using the concept of baby since prehistoric times. We are happy to have created such a comprehensive collection. I would like to thank everyone who contributed, especially Mr. Rahmi M. Koç. I hope our visitors will also leave our exhibition happy.”
The main sponsor of the exhibition, Zen Pırlanta Board Member Şükran Güzeliş said, “We have had very good collaborations with the esteemed Rahmi M. Koç Museum over the years and our relationship has now turned into friendship. In this sense, we have undertaken with great pleasure the main sponsorship of the World Dolls Exhibition. I liken them to jewels because they represent a temporal bridge between the past and the future. In fact, jewelery is a bridge built in the present, connecting the past and the future. This bridge carries meanings, values, happiness, but also principles, care and diligence. A master craftsmanship required for making dolls is also essential for making jewellery. When we look at handmade dolls, we see that there is a great effort, creativity and fine craftsmanship behind each one, just like in jewelry making. We are very happy to be the main sponsor of this exhibition, which allows us to see babies, who have a very meaningful place in all of our lives, from a historical and cultural perspective.”