Osman Hamdi Bey, who took painting education in Paris, was the director of İstanbul Acheology Museum and he was assigned for another duty on January 1, 1882: Being appointed as the director of Sanayi-i Nefise Mekteb-i Alisi (The Imperial School of Fine Arts). This was assumed as the first step toward the establishment of the Academy. Osman Hamdi Bey started by the construction of a building across the Archeology Museum (Oriental Works of Art Museum) and he started education with 20 students located in 5 workshops. Number of students increased to 60 in two years.
The teasching staff was formulated according to the curriculum of the Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Calligraphy Departments and the official name Mekteb-i Sanayi-i Nefise-i fiahane was given. Oksan Efendi for Sculpture,Alexandre Vallaury for Technical Architecture, Salvator Valeri for oil painting, Joseph Warnia Zarzecki for Pencil Painting were assigned. However, the following were given as shared programs: Anatomy by Yusuf Rami Efendi, Mathematics by Hasan Fuat Bey and History by Aristoklis Efendi. Calligraphy Department started education by the arrival of Stanislas Arthur Napier to school. Sanayi-i NefiseMekte-i Ali sent Feyzi Bey and Nizameddin Bey from moved to Cağaloğlu Gedikler Kahyası Salih Efendi Konağı from a small building in fiehzadebaşı and to Cağaloğlu Lisan Mektebi (language school) in the following years.
The year 1924 is important as the year when the Ornamentation Department was established. Avni Lifij was their first teacher. This department gained its real quality in 1927 when Eric Weber established the Poster Workshop during the directorate of Namık İsmail.
The year 1926 is an important date for Sanayi-i Nefise Mekteb-i Ali. Because of continual displacement and being obliged to give education at unqualified buildings, the institution lost its collection and most of its workshpo materials. Finally, the institution started education at a permanent building at Meclis-i Mebusan in Fındıklı.
The title of the school remained as Sanayi-i Nefise Mekteb-i Ali until the year 1927 and the name changed to Sanayi-i Nefise Akademisi in 1928 and to Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi (Fine Arts Academy) in 1929 and the owl amblem designed by Celal Bey has been used for the first time. Medresetülhattatin which used to give independent education between 1914-1929 was first changed to fiark Tezyini Sanatlar Mektebi (Oriental Ornamentation school) and then to Türk Tezyini Sanatlar Bölümü (Turkish Ornamentation Department) in 1936 which was connected to the Academy afterwards. This department took the name of Türk Süsleme Bölümü (Turkish Ornamentation Department) and was connected to Tezyini Sanatlar Bölümü (Art of Ornamentation Department) in 1956.
When the National Socialists came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933, the educational staff began to work in bad conditions and circumstances like every person living there. This was a turning point for the Academy because the lecturers being forced to abondon were invited to Turkey and this period is remembered as the beginning of the ‘Academy Reform’. Modern education opportunities began to be granted during the academy directorate of Burhan Toprak with the arrival of Leopold Levy to Painting Department, of Rudolph Belling to Sculpture Department, of Ernest Egli, Bruno Taut, Robert Vorthözer to Architecture Department and of Philip Ginther, Marie Louis Sue to Art of Ornamentation Department. With great efforts of Burhan Toprak and of especially Afet İnan establishment of a museum has become true in 1937 and the Museum of Painting and Sculpture was opened at the Veliaht Dairesi (room of the heir to the throne) of Dolmabahçe Palace. 320 art pieces were exhibited and 134 of these pieces were granted from the Academy. The dynamism that foreign teaching staff assisted in contributed to the education, enable the formation of the Turkish teaching staff of young generation. For instance in Painting Department: Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Cemal Tollu, Sabri Berkel, Cevat Dereli, Ali Çelebi, Zeki Kocamemi, Nurullah Berk ve Zeki Faik İzer; in Sculpture Department: Nijad Sirel, Ali Hadi Bara ve Zühtü Müritoğlu played an important role in improving the level of education and they were also advantage for the Turkish Art. In 1943; Kenan Temizan who returned from Germany, founded a studio for Fashion Pictures and as the head of the department of Decorative Arts, he took his part in the young teaching staff of the Academy.
On April 1, 1948, a fire burned down the academy building and caused the destruction of the library, official document, educational supplies and the collection of paintings cmpletely. For this reason, again another moving would be inevitable. Following the fire, while the education was continued in less destioyed buildings and in limited faclities, the Department of Architecture had to be moved to Fındıklı Primary School and then to Yıldız School for Deaf and Dumb. The return was not possible until April 23, 1953. Apart from the art education in the Academy, with the efforts of Celâl Esat Arseven and Rıfkı Melul Meriç, a unit was formed for the first time, aiming the scientific researches, and in 1951 Turkish Institute of Arts History was founded. Between 1957 and 1959, the Academy was converted into a new administrative statute and became a five -year- school for ‘higher education’; had its self-administration; chiefs were elected and students were admitted according to the talent test following the high school. Besides, the name of Decorative Arts Department was changed to Higher Decorative Arts Department as the Club Cinema 7 -founded previously- developed in time, Turkish Film Archive in 1967 and State Archive of Films, Academy of Fine Arts in 1969 were founded. As of 1973, the cinema courses were started by the chairmanship of Sami fiekeroğlu and supported by Metin Erksan, Lütfi Ö. Akad, İlhan Arakon and Halit Refiğ, were the first indication of Cinema-TV Institute founded in 1973. In the beginning of 1960’s, the intensive work and efforts started by Asım Mutlu, the director of Academy, were completed after 25 years by Hüseyin Gezer, who was the director of the period, and in 1969, the Academy of Fine Arts gained the statute of being a university. The teaching staff of the Academy could gain their academic career with the legislation enacted 86 years later. One of the most prominent changes in the Academy during the directorship of Hüseyin Gezer was that, the delegates of students also participated in the decisions made by the Academy.
The Adile Sultan Palace next to the Meclis-i Meb’usan building and functioned as Atatürk Girls’ High School had bee allocated to the Academy in 1970, however; it could be used 5 years later due to the renovation of the building. The School of Architecture and the School of Applied Industrial Arts which were previously in the statute of private higher education, were attached to the Academy with the legislation enacted in 1971. These two institutions directed by the directors appointed by the Academy, were united under the Body of Academy asof 1980. As of 1975, yet new institutes aiming scientific research and education were established within the Academy: the Cinema-TV Institute, the Urban Research Institute, the Industrial Design Research and Publications Institute, the Turkish Architecture and Restoration Institute, and the Photography Institute. In 1975, the amblem of the Academy was redesigned by Abdullah Taşçı, one of the lecturers in Graphic Department. The need for publication in the Academy led to the foundation of the printing house with the enterprise of Chief Prof. Sadun Ersin and it started to function in 1976 for the first time. In 1977, the Foundation of Fine Arts’ was established under the structure of the Academy and it undertook the aim of creating new opportunities to make researches and studies in various aspects of fine arts, and also improving the art and culture of the Turkish society. The Academy went through with the stages of being a faculty during 1977-1979 and continued its education with the 7 faculties of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Industrial Arts, Visual Arts, Basic Art and Science, Construction Production and Environmental Arrangement.
The foundation and the educational function of Ankara State Academy of Fine Arts and Bursa Higher Decorative Arts Department occur at the same time as the period of 1977-1979. These institutions will later on hold a place with İstanbul State Academy of Fine Arts. Between 1977-1987, the precursor ‘Art Festival’ and ‘New Trends Exhibition’ organized by the Academy are remenbered as being the most prominent characteristic of a ‘headstone’ directing the contemporary artistic environment throughout the country. This facility was revived in 1997; however, it could not be as effective as the previous organizations. In 1981, with the passing of ‘Law of Higher Education’ all the institutions of high education in Turkey were gathered under the roof of ‘Council of High Education’. Prof. Orhan fiahinler, who was the head of the Fine Arts Academy of that period, made great efforts to change the status of the academy to university and all the faculties were rebuilt respectively. During the first Rector Prof. Muhteşem Giray’s presidency, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Institute of Positive Sciences, Institute of Social Sciences, State Conservatory were added to the Faculty of Architecture and Faculty of Fine Arts renaming it as the Mimar Sinan University. The same year Cinema-TV Intitute was reconstructed to consist of two units: Center of Cinema-TV and Cinema TV Department connected to the Faculty of Fine Arts. After the institution gained its status as a university, in 1984 the Mimar Sinan Research Center and in 1985 the research center of Atatürk’s principles and History of Turkish Revolution were established.
In 1987 when Prof. Gündüz Gökçe was the Rector, the conservatory moved to its new building in Beşiktaş, and in 1988 Fashion &Ready-to-wear program started at the Vocational High School. In 1989, Zevki Kadın Sıbyan School was allocated to the use of Mimar Sinan University by the Charitable Foundation Office. In 1990, the Museum Founding and Plastic Arts Restoration Research and Applications Center were established within the body of Painting and Sculpture Museum. In 1993, Mimar Sinan University was allocated by the Ministry of Defense a very important building to be used: the historical Tophane-i Amire. The building was rapidly restored and put in to use as the ‘Tophane i Amire Culture and Arts Center’ during the rectorate of Prof. Tamer Başoğlu. The same year, Department of Basic Education was also established. In 1999, Department of Information Technologies began its certificate program. The Rector, Prof. İsmet Vildan Alptekin, changed the name of the institution to become ‘Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University’ in 2004.
With international efforts and within the process of nomiation to EU, we obtained new advantages. In this respect, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University gained Erasmus University Charter Extended – EUC on Nov.1 2003 and started student and academical staff exchange with the EU universities.