A Brief History of the Museum
The Vehbi Koç Foundation Sadberk Hanım Museum occupies two separate buildings. The original building is a three-story (plus an attic) wooden mansion that is generally believed to have been built in the late 19th century and whose architecture was inspired by the European vernacular traditions. The building, constructed of wood and lathe-and-plaster on a masonry foundation, was known as the “Azeryan Yalısı” or “Azeryan Yalı”.
The building was purchased by the Koç family in 1950 and was used by them as a summer-house until the decision to convert it into a museum was taken in 1978. The conversion to a museum was carried out between 1978 and 1980 according to a restoration project that had been prepared by Sedat Hakkı Eldem. It opened its doors to the public on October 14th 1980 with the Sadberk Koç collection on display.
The Azeryan Yalı occupies 400 square metres of space set in grounds measuring a total of 4,280 square metres in all. On the ground floor are a gift shop and a small tea room. The ceiling over the main entrance (which is no longer used) is decorated with plaster mouldings inspired by the ancient Roman architecture. Wooden stairways lead to the upper floors. The walls are painted so as to resemble veined marble. The centrally located main halls of the second and third floors and the rooms opening onto them are used for display purposes. The attic is used for storage and also contains offices and a library. The crossed wooden mouldings decorating the exterior give the building a distinctive appearance quite different from that of its neighbours. It is because of these moulded facades that the building was for a long time popularly known as the “Threaded Yalı”.
In 1983 the Vehbi Koç Foundation purchased the Hüseyin Kocabaş collection for the Sadberk Hanım Museum. It was decided to purchase and restore a semi-dilapidated yalı adjacent to it to house. The facade of this second yali, which is thought to have been constructed in the early part of this century, was faithfully reconstructed according to the original. The restoration project was prepared by İbrahim Yalçın and the work, including the construction of the museum, took two years to complete. This museum, which was opened on October 24th 1988, was given the name the “Sevgi Gönül Wing”. It houses works from the pre-Islamic period. In 1988 it was awarded the Europa Nostra award as an outstanding example of modern museum architecture and design.
This wing is completely constructed of reinforced concrete. The front is clad in wood while the side is clad in marble stucco treated to resemble wood. (This was done as a precaution against fire.) The building has three stories in the front and four at the back, including the ground floor on which are located a multi-purpose hall and a conservation laboratory. Archaeological objects are displayed in chronological order on the main and other floors. The total exhibition space is 625 square metres. The entrance floor is paved in white Afyon marble while black Adapazari marble was used for the floors of the exhibition spaces and the stairs. All the exhibition areas are sealed off from daylight and the display cases are illuminated in keeping with modern museum techniques.