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Dolls exhibition at the Rahmi Koç museum

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ISTANBUL

The Rahmi M. Koç Museum hosts the “Dolls” exhibition, which highlights the journey of dolls, the most important milestones in the toy industry from Antiquity to the present day.

From Antiquity to the 21st century, dolls have been objects of belief and culture, as well as children’s toys. While there were wax dolls used for witchcraft in the Middle Ages in the West, wooden dolls in lace robes appeared in the Renaissance era, made for noble women.

The dolls produced by the inhabitants of different geographical areas with traditional methods were replaced by those which are mass-produced using porcelain and plastic in large, low-cost factories with the industrial revolution.

Curated by Serra Kanyak, the exhibition features a special selection of different types of dolls, from 18th century wooden dolls to Anatolian rag dolls, from Asian and African religious dolls to fashion dolls, from horror dolls to traditional dolls from around the world. It both explains the purposes of using the doll concept since prehistoric times and shows visitors the great transformation of the doll industry over the centuries.

The founder of the museum, Rahmi M. Koç, pioneer of the exhibition, included the dolls from his personal collection in the exhibition project. He also bought various dolls during his trips abroad.

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At the opening ceremony of the exhibition on September 28, Mine Sofuoğlu, general manager of the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, said that the exhibition, which was carried out after three years of efforts, means a lot to them.

Noting that museums have gained different experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sofuoğlu said, “With digitization, museums have become much more attractive to young visitors. We also won over a new audience. These days, as we gradually leave the pandemic behind us, we offer a different experience with the “Dolls” exhibit. I hope it will be a wonderful exhibit that all visitors enjoy.

Stating that the dolls are not only toys but also sociological elements and works of art, SofuoÄŸlu said that the exhibition, which consists of beautiful examples of the development of dolls from the past to the present, can be visited by people of all ages.

Seven countries visited to complete the collection

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On the other hand, Kanyak shared information about the formation of the three-year exhibition process and the items in the collection. She said: “When we decided to organize a doll exhibition, there were already several dolls in Koç’s personal collection and in the collections of the Rahmi Koç museums in Istanbul and Ankara. However, in order to create a global doll show, we needed to have a much larger collection. First of all, I researched the topic “What is a doll?” I identified the gaps to get different types of dolls in the world literature, then together with Rahmi Koç we started to collect the missing ones in our collection.

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Stating that Koç bought many dolls from Sweden, France, England and America and that she also traveled to Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia to research and buy babies, Kanyak said declared having visited various museums, exhibitions, antique and vintage markets.

“The collection has been enriched by donations from our close friends at the museum. After three years, we prepared for the exhibition. We present a historical story in the exhibition chronologically, ”she added.

The main sponsor of the exhibition, Zen Pırlanta board member Şükran Güzeliş, said that dolls, like jewelry, build a time bridge between the past and the future. She said there are similarities between making dolls and making jewelry.

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The exhibition can be visited from 10 a.m. to 5.30 a.m. on weekdays except Monday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

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