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Rehousing the collection

Over the next three months, approximately 151,000 artefacts will be transported from five external storage facilities to the new Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and installed in their new home. The rehousing on an unprecedented scale of all these works – the result of ‘172 years of collecting from across five centuries of paintings, drawings, sculptures, design objects and other artistic items’ – has begun.

The doors of the world’s first publicly accessible art depot are set to open in five months from now, on Saturday, 6 November. Through until the opening, work will continue apace on the arrangement of the display cases and presentation spaces, the completion of the restaurant and staff training. 


For almost four months and for five days per week, lorries will be driving to the new depot from external storage facilities in the Netherlands and beyond. A total of 216 journeys with 22 cubic metres of cargo will be undertaken to convey the 151,000 artworks (a total volume of 4,500 cubic metres, including 20% as packing material). While certain works will occupy a whole lorry, others (e.g. prints and drawings in boxes) can be transported by the thousands. 


The 3D measurement of all the objects began two years prior to the rehousing operation, to make sure that they fit into all the new racks and shelves. All the objects can immediately be positioned in a predetermined spot in the new depot, as the shelves and racks have already been tailored accordingly. All the objects have been given a label with a colour code, based on the material (whether glass, ceramic, textile, wood, metal or plastic) and format. There are 14 colours in all, corresponding to the 14 storage compartments in the depot. On the arrival of a lorry, the compartment where its cargo of art belongs is immediately obvious as it is unloaded. Artefacts that are similar are handled in the same way, so a lorry is always filled with a particular colour.