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On 26 May 2020: Boijmans closed for a year

One year ago, on 26 May 2019, the doors of Museumpark 18 closed for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s major renovation and the museum went ‘into transit’. What has happened since then? And what are the future plans?

Despite the closure, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s world-renowned collection of more than 151,000 artworks has not been locked away. Until March, the collection travelled to schools, institutions and museums in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and abroad. These activities will resume when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Construction of the new Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen has continued unabated with increased safety precautions. To stay in touch with its public, the museum has launched an online programme called B home, with a range of fun activities.

Timeline 26 May 2019 – 26 May 2020

  • In August 2019, the last works of art left the museum and the keys to the building were returned to the Municipality of Rotterdam. The museum’s employees spread across the city and the office staff moved into a building on the Gedempte Zalmhaven.
  • More than 6,000 paintings and sculptures and 87,000 works on paper were moved to five external storage facilities.
  • The library (160,000 titles) and reading room remain accessible in the Rotterdam Municipal Archives during the renovation.
  • All 151,000 objects from the collection have been assigned a future location in Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. They will be moved there from the end of 2020.
  • The museum has devised a series of lessons for trainee doctors at the Erasmus Medical Centre called ‘The Art of Looking’, which encourages better observation.
  • Boijmans has started Boijmans Hillevliet in the Feijenoord neighbourhood. This learning and listening post in Rotterdam South aims of developing a sustainable contribution to the city.
  • Eight of the eleven exhibitions in the Boijmans Next Door programme have already taken place in the Kunsthal (3), the Chabot Museum (2), the Tax & Customs Museum, the Erasmus Medical Centre, the Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam and Museum Rotterdam. These unique partnerships with our neighbouring institutions have generated new connections, contexts and knowledge. Two exhibitions scheduled to open in the spring of 2020 have been postponed.
  • The exhibition of old masters from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen at the National Gallery in London that was scheduled for 2021 may take place in the summer of 2023.
  • Boijmans in the Classroom, an international first, was launched in September 2019 and was fully booked from December for the entire school year. Up to mid-March, the programme provided in-classroom teaching with works of art from the museum’s collection for approx. 3000 pupils from 124 classes at 28 different schools.
  • Since the museum closed, hundreds of artworks have been loaned to exhibitions at home and abroad, including ‘The Three Marys at the Tomb’, a fifteenth-century jewel in the museum’s crown by Jan Van Eyck, which has been loaned to another museum for the first time. It was shown from 1 February in the major Van Eyck exhibition in Belgium.
  • Construction of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen has advanced massively in the past year. Most of the mirrored façade panels have been installed and adopted, the trees have been planted on the roof, and the atrium has been installed.
  • In the summer of 2019, the competition began to find an architect for the museum’s major renovation and modernisation programme. The finalists were Mecanoo Architecten and the teams of David Chipperfield Architects and WDJArchitecten, and KAAN Architecten and Van Hoogevest Architecten. In February, an eight-person jury with representatives from the city council and the museum, architecture and monument conservation experts and the Chief Government Architect appointed Mecanoo Architects to carry out the project.
  • The museum has launched the B home programme with online activities to keep the public in touch with the collection, the museum, makers and creativity for as long as the collection is not physically visible.

Looking ahead…

  • During the last weekend of September 2020, Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen will be presented empty at the Silver Opening, after which the relocation of the 151,000 artworks will commence prior to the Depot’s Golden Opening in the autumn of 2021.
  • Hillevliet will reopen in Rotterdam South on 1 June to further develop its function as a place for learning and listening.
  • A programme is planned in Rotterdam West (Bospolder Tussendijken) that links energy transition and poverty reduction to art.
  • The museum’s world-famous Surrealist collection can be seen from 1 June in the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen in the exhibition ‘This is Surrealism! The Boijmans Masterpieces’. These works will then travel to the Museum Te Papa Tongarewa in New Zealand.
  • Boijmans Next Door is still running. Three new exhibitions will open within the next nine months: ‘Art Means Everything’ at the Chabot Museum on 2 June, ‘Remix Rotterdam’ at the Wereldmuseum in September, and ‘Maritime Masterpieces’ at the Maritime Museum in February 2021.
  • Boijmans in the Classroom will continue in 2020 and will provide hundreds of lessons in the coming school year, circumstances permitting, in which works from Rotterdam’s impressive City Collection will be shared with a new generation of Rotterdammers.
  • The museum has launched a special museum studies programme for MBO students in partnership with Zadkine College.
  • The first design sketches of the new Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will be presented to Rotterdam City Council in July. Later in the year, a decision will be made about the available budget and the scale of the renovations.
  • From 2021 onwards, if developments in the coronavirus pandemic allow it, Boijmans will participate in major international art fairs and exhibitions in prestigious museums around the world. We will announce later this year to what extent this programme can be continued.