Today, July 29th, marks 100 days until the Grand Opening of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. When it opens on November 6th, the building designed by MVRDV will be the world’s first publicly accessible art depot, and for the first time will bring together all 151,000 artworks in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection at a single location, next to the main museum building in Museumpark.
Like the majority of museums around the world, the Museum Boijmans can display just 6-10% of its holdings in its galleries. With the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, the entire collection can be accessed by everyone, adding significantly to the allure of the museum’s location in central Rotterdam. The depot also allows visitors to immerse themselves in the behind-the-scenes world of the museum, learning about operations such as preservation and restoration that are normally hidden from the public. Perhaps most crucially, the depot offers the museum a storage facility that is purpose-built and future-proof, ensuring the safety of the priceless artworks for future generations.
A 39.5-metre-high building ‘in the round’, the depot’s bowl-like form has a relatively small footprint. This form ensures that at the ground level, existing views into and routes through the Museumpark remain unimpeded. The reflective façade wears the trappings of whatever surrounds it: people passing by, Museumpark’s leafy grounds, the clouds, and Rotterdam’s dynamic city skyline. Topping the building is a restaurant and an award-winning rooftop forest, which gives back more park space than is taken by the building’s footprint and offers inspiring views of Rotterdam. This rooftop will be accessible to all, even without a ticket to see the rest of the Depot.
Inside, the storage depots are accessed via a dramatic atrium with crisscrossing staircases, reminiscent of the etchings from Giovanni Piranesi. Suspended glass display cases will show works selected by museum curators. Art is displayed throughout the building, beginning in the ground floor lobby and continuing along the entire route through the building.
“Art depots by their nature are hermetic, but we wanted to make this an open and accessible building – safe for art but as inviting as possible to visitors”, says MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas. “Despite its size, it has become a light-footed building, with a roof forest at 34 metres that enriches the Museumpark. I look forward to the opening, the moment when people can experience the space and the art for themselves, by taking the elevator or walking up the stairs that criss-cross the atrium.”
To date, over 90,000 artworks have been moved into their new home, with their locations determined by their climatic needs and their size, arranged as efficiently as possible. Prints, drawings and photos are kept closed for conservation reasons, but can be viewed on request in two study rooms, while the film and video collection can be consulted in special film rooms.
Tickets to visit the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen during the Gold Opening will go on sale on September 1. The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is a collaboration between Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Municipality of Rotterdam and the De Verre Bergen Foundation. The depot was designed by MVRDV and constructed by BAM Bouw en Techniek. Read more about the design of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen here.
MVRDV partner Jan Knikker has also written a reflection on his first visit to the depot while the art was being moved in, finding that despite being involved in the project for over seven years already, it still has the capacity to surprise him. Read his essay here.