The world-famous art collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has over a period of 170 years grown to include more than 151,000 artefacts: 63,000 paintings, photographs, films, pre-industrial design and design objects, contemporary art installations and sculptures, as well as 88,000 prints and drawings. The collection offers a journey through the history of art, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. This vast collection is highly diverse, is highly respected around the world and is unique within the Netherlands. The entire collection will now be housed in the freshly completed Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
The celebrated Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam is currently closed for a large-scale renovation and refurbishment. The museum building has been in need of maintenance for many years and could not continue in its present state, because of asbestos, risk of flooding, outdated technical installations and inadequate fire safety measures. Mecanoo was appointed as renovation architect in February 2020 and the refurbished museum is expected to open its doors in 2028.
Closed or accessible to the public?
The art depots in the cellar of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen were unsafe, overfull and outdated. Over recent years these have been emptied and the art has been stored in five off-site depots. Storing the precious collection of more than 151,000 artefacts with a value of more than €8 billion in the museum’s basement was not an option; the only solution was an external storage facility.. The museum’s preference – with the financial support of Rotterdam City Council and the philanthropic foundation Stichting De Verre Bergen – was to construct a publicly accessible depot adjacent to the museum building in the centre of Rotterdam. Unlike a closed storage facility on an industrial estate, this means that the entire collection will be accessible to the public under one roof. This is a world first.
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen
The world’s first publicly accessible art depot will open its doors in November 2021 at the Museumpark in Rotterdam. Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the museum world and makes the whole art collection publicly accessible. Museums around the world usually display just six to ten percent of their collections; the remaining 90-plus percent is hidden in storage. Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is breaking with this tradition of concealment and will make all
these invisible artefacts visible. In a unique and iconic reflective building, specially designed by MVRDV to meet the requirements of this unprecedented building type, all 151,000 artefacts will be afforded a worthy place in the heart of the city. Visitors are immersed in the world behind the scenes of a museum and experience what maintaining and caring for an invaluable art collection actually entails. The 39.5-metre-high mirrored building with its rooftop woodland and panoramic vista will be a new icon for Rotterdam.
The depot’s design
MVRDV’s ambition was to design a highly inviting building where visitors feel welcome and at the same time leave the gateway to the Museumpark intact. The choice fell on an ovoid form so that the depot is equally inviting on all sides, the building has no back. The depot’s cinched shape is due to the relatively small footprint. The building therefore bulges outwards as it rises and has an overhang of 10 metres in order to accommodate the whole programme: depots, restoration studios, hospitality, projection and presentation spaces. The reflective edifice, comprising 6,609 squares metres of glass subdivided into 1,664 panels, ensures that the structure is visually integrated into its surroundings. Depending on the weather the depot looks different, like a tableau vivant, every single day. The eye-catcher in MVRDV’s design is the atrium with its intersecting stairs and the rooftop ‘woodland’ at an elevation of almost 35 metres. The birch trees, grasses and pines on the roof help to retain water, foster biodiversity and reduce the hittestress heat stress in the city. The trees for this project were specially cultivated at a nursery for three years: their root systems are interlocked so that they can withstand stormy weather, even at such an exposed height.
A depot accessible to the public
Visitors to Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen can browse among more than 151,000 artefacts, independently or with a guide – you can join a group for free throughout the day. The public can also observe conservation and restoration processes, transportation and packaging of works of art. Surrounded by art, visitors are led upwards through the glass stairwell via five large zigzag stairways that are reminiscent of work by Giovanni Piranesi. The works of art are stored as efficiently as possible, in a manner similar to in a closed depot. Artefacts stand wrapped, hanging from a rack, displayed in a cabinet or exhibited in one of the 13 display cases that are suspended in the atrium. Prints, drawings and photographs will be stored in enclosed spaces, but visitors can submit requests to view works from these collections. The film and video collection can be viewed in special projection rooms.
The depot’s commercial function
Alongside the depot’s role as the museum’s engine room, it will also serve a commercial function. Part of the building can be rented as storage space for the art of private collectors, corporate collections or other museums, which can in turn open up these spaces for the public. The sixth floor, accessible via an express lift, is situated at a height of about 35 metres and offers breathtaking vistas across the city of Rotterdam. The rooftop garden includes a pavilion with an events space that is available for rent and a daytime/evening restaurant overseen by Jim de Jong as executive chef.
An environmentally friendly depot
The art will be exhibited according to climatic requirements, rather than artistic movement or era. Each storage space is provided with a specific climate that is maintained by a climate control system. There are five different climate zones, suited to works of art produced with different materials: metal, plastic, organic/inorganic, black-and-white and colour photography. This method of storing the art collection calls for specific climatic conditions in which the air is not overly cold, warm, humid or dry. The regulation of this climate requires precision and consumes lots of energy. The building has been designed to provide optimal conditions for the art while being as energy-efficient as possible. Where possible, sustainable materials are being employed: the building has led lighting, a geothermal heat exchanger, solar panels, an innovative system for climate control, and rainwater storage that supplies water for the rooftop garden and toilet facilities.
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is a collaboration between Boijmans Van Beuningen, the municipality of Rotterdam and Stichting De Verre Bergen. This Rotterdam based philanthropic foundation invests in social programs to create long term positive impact on the city of Rotterdam. The depot was designed by the architectural firm MVRDV and built by BAM Bouw en Techniek. With the investment in the depot, the partners look forward to strengthening the cultural capital of the city and making the collection accessible.
Facts and figures Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen opens to the public on 6 November 2021
The first publicly accessible art depot in the world
Space for 151,000 artefacts from the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen collection
Designed by Winy Maas, co-founder of the architecture firm MVRDV
Ground level and six floors for art storage – with a restaurant, roof garden and panoramic view on the 6th floor
39.5 metres tall, with a roof terrace at an elevation of about 35 metres
Building’s diameter: 40 metres at its base expanding to 60 metres at the top, with 15,541 square metres of floor area
5 different climate zones
4 professional restoration studios
Some 1,600 square metres of depot space for rent, intended for private collectors
Edifice: 6,609 square metres of glass, divided into 1,664 mirrors
Depot opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 – 18:00
Restaurant opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 – late (kitchen closes at 22:00)
The 6th floor and the rooftop terrace can be accessed without an entrance ticket using the express lift from 17:00 through to closing time
The rooftop garden is shaded by 75 multi-stemmed birch trees and 20 pine trees
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen Museumpark Rotterdam
Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is situated in the Museumpark, a 10-minute walk from Rotterdam’s Central Station. There are many other cultural institutions in the vicinity: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Chabot Museum, Rotterdam’s Natural History Museum and the Sonneveld House.
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries with
Fokke Moerel, Sanne van der Burgh, Arjen Ketting, Gerard Heerink, Jason Slabbynck, Jan Knikker
Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries with
Fokke Moerel and Sanne van der Burgh, Marta Pozo Gil, Gerard Heerink, Elien Deceuninck, Saimon Gomez Idiakez, Nacho Velasco, Jason Slabbynck, Mariya Gyaurova, Lukasz Brzozowski
Antonio Luca Coco, Matteo Artico, Carlo Cattó
Sustainability: BREEAM Excellent (goal)
Structure: IMd Raadgevend Ingenieurs
Cost engineering: BBN
Building Physics: Peutz
The world-famous art collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has over a period of 170 years grown to include more than 151,000 artefacts: 63,000 paintings, photographs, films, pre-industrial design and design objects, contemporary art installations and sculptures, as well as 88,000 prints and drawings. The collection offers a journey through the history of art, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. This vast collection is highly diverse, is highly respected around the world and is...
- Year 2020
- Work finished in 2020
- Client Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, De Verre Bergen Foundation, Municipality of Rotterdam
- Status Completed works
- Type Museums