When the renewed Rijksmuseum will open his doors in 2013 it will fulfil all international conditions to house over 8.000 objects of art and history, exposed for a big public of 2 million visitors each year. In order to achieve this, an impressive renovation took place, based on the assigned competition of Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos in 2001, in which the original 19th century building of Cuypers has been recovered in its original glory. The way in which Cruz y Ortiz treated the existing building highlights and reinforces the spatial use of the monumental building in a modern way.
An important feature in the architects’ perspective is “to go further with Cuypers,” which not only does justice to the original architect, but as well requires a measured interpretation of the valuable monumental spaces and elements. They are given a new logic and order by means of a new layer in time. The co-existence of old and new, without any narrative character, is essential in this juxtaposition, in which both elements face a new future in a synergetic way. Once the visitor has entered the museum, this design approach is most perceptible in the courtyards, where similar to the Cuypers’ building, a solemnity, quietness and symmetry are present, embraced by the adjacent centuries’ old facade.
The physical and visual interruption that the peculiar bicycles’ passage straight through the Rijksmuseum used to give has been overcome by a gentle slope of the square underneath it, enabling to connect the east with the west wing, something that in the original plans of Cuypers only occurred on the main level of the exhibition area. With this intervention one of the biggest logistical bottlenecks of the past century has been resolved, offering the RIJKS a great public space for multiple use under its own roof. These atria, connected by the transitory passage, give access to the collections and to multiple new uses in and around the courtyard square itself. In search for ‘new useful area,’ space have been found underneath the courtyard’s square within the boundaries of the very own building, facilitating a spacious auditorium, a two levelled shop and grand cafe.
Behind the mute courtyard’s facades, the collections are housed. Big ceremonial entrance porches give generous access way to the ‘Treasury room of the Netherlands.’ Therefore the existing Cuypers’ building has been made fully public accessible, even revealing the formerly secluded staff areas in the low vaulted basements for public use and the higher attic areas.
The severely damaged casco is liberated after all dismantling preset walls, false ceilings, box-in-boxes and installation components. Its main exhibition level will house the masters of the Golden Age, all illuminated by dosed day light, falling down from the newly renovated sky lights.
The co-existence of these richly decorated Front Hall and Gallery of Honour, the dim exhibition areas of the golden age, against the ceremonial, bright atria are both forming a big asset for the Rijksmuseum in the development of all kind of events in multiple atmospheres, promising it a long lasting future.
On the south side of the garden one can see two small new pavilions. They are located on this site of the plot, already being the more picturesque site of the Museum. Cuypers himself designed all the exceptions in the very strict symmetric floor plan on this site of the garden: the Vermeer extension, Library, Aduard Chapel, Villa and Teekenschool and later the Philipswing are all witnesses of that.
One of these two extensions is the Asian Pavilion, which houses the Asian Art that doesn’t fit in the chronological order of the Main (Dutch) Collections. Main part of this Asian Art is housed underground in order to avoid a building with too much volumetric presence in the relatively small cul-du-sac courtyard, created by the exterior walls of the Philipswing, Main Building, Library and Vermeer extension. The pavilion receives its independency avoiding any parallelism with the surrounding boundary conditions of the existing casco. Consequently the continuous shattered outline, enables different orientations and views.
This is enforced by the sloping roof. The big window towards the Museumstraat enables the only possible visual contact between exposed art and citizens passing by. The pavilion is clad with the same stone as the courtyards: one that matches the colour tone of both the natural stone plinth of Cuypers as the lime stone of the towers and window sills. The massive corner details, giving continuity to the perimeter of the pavilion, enhances a similar tectonic approach as its predecessor Cuypers.
The other pavilion is the Entrance or Service building. Located between the Villa and Teekenschool, this pavilion shows many similarities with the Asian Pavillion. Its shattered outline, this time caused by a transition between the facades of the Villa, towards the facade of the Teekenschool, give it a similar presence as ‘objet trouvé’ in the garden. The building allows any logistic access to the Rijksmuseum: employees, goods, food, garbage, energy and visitors for the Teekenschool: they all enter through here.
Although modest in size: it is the logistic heart of the building and gives access to coronary artery underground. This – for regular visitors – secluded subterranean world contains the new energy and climate provisions for the whole New Rijksmuseum project by means of underground plant rooms, connected by an installation corridor.
The new Rijksmuseum will open on 13 April 2013 following a ten-year
transformation, which has seen the museum rebuilt, renovated and
restored. Never before has a national museum undergone such a complete modernisation. The new Rijksmuseum will display more than 8,000 artistic and historical objects, in a striking sequence of 80 galleries, which tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history from 1200 to the
The Rijksmuseum has been housed in the current building, designed by
Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers (1827 – 1921), since 1885. The building
endured more than a century of intensive use before major renovation
plans were put in place. Spanish architects Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos of Seville have transformed the 19th century building into a museum for the 21st century. Parisian museum designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte has devised the interior design for the galleries, fusing 19th-century grandeur with modern design.
The 10-year renovation of the Rijksmuseum is one of the most significant ever undertaken by a museum. The entire museum has been renewed – the historic 19thcentury building has been transformed and new public facilities have been created including a spectacular new entrance hall, a new Asian pavilion and a renovated garden.
The museum will feature over 8,000 works of art and artefacts telling the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The world-famous collection, including masterpieces by artists such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn, will be presented in chronological sequence for the first time, creating an awareness of time and a sense of beauty.
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