Champagne, speeches, happy faces: the first pile of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen was sunk on 17 March 2017. Designed by renowned architects MVRDV, this art repository, the first in the world to be accessible to the public, is coming to Museumpark in Rotterdam.
In the previous weeks the site was prepared for building and fenced off. On 17 March 2017 the Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb climbed into the crane to sink the very first pile for Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen – with the help of the Children’s Council. ‘A gift for the city,’ as the mayor described the new building. According to director Sjarel Ex, there is nothing like it anywhere, ‘and this makes the sinking of the very first pile a historic moment we are delighted to celebrate with everyone involved. We are safeguarding the collection for future generations, the fourteenth since the museum was founded almost 170 years ago’.
The museum’s collection is currently in antiquated depots in and around the city. Ex has been working on the creation of one large, centrally located depot since 2005. The idea of opening it to the public was inspired. The new depot is a design by architect Winy Maas of MVRDV in Rotterdam. Maas specifically turned away from the existing museum building, deciding instead to create a new and spectacularly different design, reminiscent of an inverted glass, ‘The architecture will mirror its surroundings and make the park look larger than it is. It will be an astonishing building.’
BAM Bouw en Techniek are building the depot, part of which will be let to private collectors who will be able to house their works in perfect climatological conditions. There will also be space for corporate collections and collections from other museums. In the near future the museum will be seeking sponsors and donors to ensure that the building is as extraordinary on the inside as it will be on the outside.
The depot is scheduled to open its doors in early 2020 and expected to attract around 90,000 visitors a year: tourists, day trippers, art lovers and museum professionals. They will soon be able browse through 70,000 artworks – independently or with a guide – in the museum’s collection and watch provenance research, conservation and restoration. They can also take the glass lift up to the roof terrace and brasserie (and it’s free!).
Vibrant City Centre
The depot will be a great draw and at the same time give the collection back to Rotterdam’s residents. During the celebratory drinks after the sinking of the first pile, Alderman Adriaan Visser remarked, ‘The depot will reinforce the cultural character of Museumpark and contribute to a vibrant city centre. And just as important: the city’s art collection, the collection owned by everyone who lives in Rotterdam, will be accessible to the public.’