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The Istanbul Research Institute, in collaboration with Robert College, is presenting an exhibition titled “The Anatomy of a Tradition: 150 Years of Robert College 1863-2013” at the Istanbul Research Institute gallery. The exhibition, which opened on May 15, is being organized on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Robert College, one of the longest-established and meritocratic educational institutions of Istanbul.

From a small building in Bebek to an impressive campus above Rumeli Fortress to its final destination in the hills of Arnavutköy, Robert College has come a much longer way than first meets the eye, defining itself a new role for every period.

Robert College was founded in Istanbul in 1863, as the brainchild of Cyrus Hamlin and Christopher R. Robert, two men who believed in the universal value of education. It is the first American school to be established in Ottoman territory, and outside the U.S., that still survives. Surviving revolutions, wars, earthquakes, fires and epidemics, the college has never closed a single day throughout its 150-year history.

The college has educated seven prime ministers, including four Bulgarians, countless statesmen, writers, artists, musicians, actors, athletes, businessmen, engineers, doctors, lawyers and educators. It has been the standard against which other schools measure themselves, even when Robert College itself had the challenge of living up to its own standards, due to lack of funding, inadequate buildings etc. from time to time throughout its history. It still offers students one of the best high school experiences in the country.

American concept

Curated by Cem Akaş, the exhibition sheds light on the 150 years of the college, as well as the educational, cultural, social and intellectual life in Istanbul through selected photographs and objects from the Robert College Archives, Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library and private collections.

As the archetype of the American concept and model of education in Turkey, the institution has made students a part of education and, in its 150-year-long history, equipped them with the ability to seek knowledge, defend this knowledge and transmit it to others through its wide range of extracurricular activities, cultural and artistic endeavors, rich libraries and resources.

The exhibition will continue through Aug. 31.

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