It is understood from the archive records that the first known Foundation in Anatolia was set up in 1048. It is known that tens of thousands of foundations were set up in the Seljuk and Ottoman geography in the historical process and a particular jurisprudence special to these foundations had been formed. These foundations have constructed thousands of buildings such as; mosques, churches, synagogues, shrines, lodges used by Mevlevi dervishes, domes, madrasahs, imarets, Turkish baths (hamam), caravansaries, covered bazaars, fountains, bridges, mansions, pavilions - palaces, clock towers, etc with various functions in the Seljuk and Ottoman geography, which also covers some parts of Europe, since 11th century to today. Each one of these buildings has been waiting to be restorated to carry the cultural and historical heritage of Anatolia and Europe to the future generations.
The foundations, whose managers and trustees have not remained in the historical process and which enable the services to be carried out in a lot of areas such as; prosperity activities, social services, education, health, religious and town planning are run through in compliance with their deeds of trust by " Directorate General of Foundations (DG) " established in 1924. Except those 41.720 fused foundations (whose managements stipulated to the descendants of the founders, however; their managers and trustees have not remained today) in order to fulfill their deeds of trust; Directorate General of Foundations also inspects 283 appendant foundations (whose managements stipulated to the descendants of the founders, and which are managed by their trustees today); 4511 new (contemporary) foundations and 161 community foundations in accordance with the contemporary standards and EU Criteria.
Special software systems have been developed in order to archive the historical certificates which belong to 41.720 fused foundations with a modern record keeping perspective. Other written documents (warrants, deeds, certificate, etc) regarding the deeds of trusts and foundations either within or out of institution from Seljuk and Ottoman periods have been collected or scanned, and their protections have been ensured by recording them in microfilms and digital archives so far within the scope of FAMS (Foundation Archive Management System) project. With this project, translation to Turkish of the Arabic documents and the transcriptions of the ones in Ottoman language are made, register and place certificates (catalogue information) of all the documents are recorded and this archive is put into service for foundation services and researchers.
On the other hand, an archive providing ease of access is being established by transferring the documents, such as; architectural and engineering drawings, technical reports, resolutions of protection commissions, documents of possession, photographs (negatives, slides, glass films, etc), epigraphs and repair index cards, maps, etc regarding the foundation cultural properties in restoration applications on the computers by Works of Art Information Management System (WAIMS) Project.
Besides the works carried out to manage fused foundations in order to fulfill their deeds of trust;
•to analyze and update the information and documents taking place in the "Foundation Registry Archive",
•to establish relations of around 65.000 immovable properties taking place and tracked in Geographical Information System (GIS) with the foundations under which they are possession and with the real estate with revenue nature which have around 23.000 tenants,
Within this frame, Directorate General of Foundations brought its works to the maximum between 2003 and 2010 and has mobilized all of its facilities for documentation, protection, and restoration of 8110 of foundation cultural properties of appendant, new and community foundations.
"Foundation Museums" were opened in 7 provinces between 2006 and 2010 and the works are carried on by targeting to open 13 more museums. Among the foundation museums, the Ankara Museum of Foundational Works has been a candidate for "European Museum of the Year" in 2009 arranged by EMF (European Museum Forum) and it received a certificate upon approval of its candidacy. In addition to the museums, a cultural centre affiliated to Directorate General of Foundations was opened in 2008 in Ankara and nowadays preparations to open another cultural centre in Istanbul continue.
Under the operation of Directorate General of Foundations, an office was founded in 2002 for struggle against smuggling office. Among the works of this office, taking the inventory of artifacts, preservation of them, announcing their smuggling and scanning the web sites of auction and antique market-places, auction catalogues and other related publications can be counted. In recent years with the works of this office a great decline has been observed in smuggling incidents and more than 600 smuggled artifacts were retrieved to Turkey.
Directorate General of Foundations has been carrying out big scale campaigns throughout the country for protecting the cultural heritage and to pass them on to the next generations. With the "Foundation Week" activities, which are carried out in the first week of May every year, introduction of Foundation consciousness at the national and international level is aimed. By making use of the universal language of the arts, competitions in Painting, Marbling art, Photography, Calligraphy, Illustration, Composition, and Article writing and for Projects regarding the foundations are arranged.
Directorate General of Foundations is a European cultural institution taking on the tasks of protecting the large-scale cultural heritage both in Turkey and abroad including Europe. In recent years the institution has implemented most of those tasks with great success and the ones which have not been implemented yet, are also in order to be protected very soon. Opening so many museums in a very short time period strengthens also this success.
Directorate General of Foundations, which has a rooted background, taking the concepts of helping each other and solidarity as its basis, was first founded with a law in 3 Mart 1924. Through the years some changes and additions were made on that law and finally the principles regarding the current structure of Directorate General of Foundations were regularized with the Foundations Law with No: 5737 dated 20.02.2008.