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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen – a house for imagination, inspiration and creativity

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is a multifaceted museum in the heart of the Netherland’s harbour city, Rotterdam. It is the only museum in the Netherlands that offers the visitor a comprehensive survey of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present day. The museum building is closed due to major renovation, but the collection will be visible in other museums. And of course, Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is open to visitors.

A museum shaped by private collectors

Visitors to the museum are often astonished by the wealth and variety of the collection. The scope and diversity are thanks to 1,700 private collectors who have gifted no fewer than 50,000 objects from 1849 onwards, the year of the establishment of the museum.

The museum derives its name from two important collectors: Frans Boijmans and D. G. van Beuningen. They added many masterpieces to the collection, including the ‘Achilles series’ by Peter Paul Rubens and ‘A Cornfield, in the Background the Zuiderzee’ by Jacob van Ruisdael.

In this video, Wim T. Schippers explains the origins of the museum’s collection and the role of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Foundation.

A world-class collection

The museum contains old master paintings and sculpture, modern and contemporary art, decorative arts, pre-industrial household objects and industrial design. The collections of prints and drawings, early Netherlandish painting, Impressionism and Surrealism are among the best in the world. And during the renovation of the museum building, the collection is on visible in other museums.

Old and modern masters

The Old Master collection includes works by Van Eyck, Fra Angelico, Bosch, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian and Delacroix. The Impressionist collection features masterpieces by leading artists such as Monet, Cézanne, Pissarro, Renoir and Degas, supplemented by Dutch masters such as Van Gogh and Breitner. Expressionism is represented by Kandinsky, Jawlenksy, Kokoschka, Van Dongen, Munch and Beckmann, among others. The Surrealist collection, one of the largest in Europe, includes iconic works by Dalí, Magritte and Ernst. Art since 1945 is also well represented by movements such as Cobra, Minimalism and Pop art.

Contemporary art and design

The museum has a magnificent collection of household objects that chart the history of design over eight centuries. From medieval pitchers and glass from the Golden Age to furniture by Rietveld and contemporary Dutch design. The museum’s art collection is brought up to date with works by internationally renowned contemporary artists such as Matthew Barney, Maurizio Cattelan, Olafur Eliasson and Pipilotti Rist.

The museum building, a house for art

The building of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen comprises three buildings, each with its own function and character. In 2021 these were joined by Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, a publicly accessible art storage facility with gallery spaces and a restaurant, in Museumpark.

Over the years Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s accommodation has taken on different forms and been considerably extended more than once. Time and again directors and architects have had clear ideas about the best way to house the collection. How can architecture enhance the perception of works of art? At the moment Mecanoo is working on a design to restore the value of the buildings, optimize the visitor's experience and improve the logisitcs of the museum. This has been an ever-present question in the history of the museum building.

Explore the rich history of the museum building.