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.
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.