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Rotterdam City Council approves renovation plan

On 16 December, Rotterdam City Council approved the definitive renovation plan for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The decision gives the green light for many of the envisioned improvements, while leaving the door open for the future realisation of the most ambitious version of the plan.

The costs are higher than for a basic renovation, but lower than for the most ambitious scenario. The plan will deliver a future-proof museum that is expected to open in 2029. An intensive survey carried out by the museum and the municipality has shown that the most ambitious renovation scenario, which the city council decided upon in 2018, is not feasible with the resources currently available, and that the land for a contemporary art pavilion and an east-west connection from the Westersingel to the Museumpark is not available.

Ambition remains intact

The Municipal Executive and the directors of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen agree that a basic renovation will not allow the museum to retain a competitive edge. Their shared ambition remains intact: modernisation and improvement of the entrance, visitor facilities, logistics and exhibition options and a better connection between the city, the museum and the Museumpark. In the final study phase, an adapted renovation plan has emerged that will keep the door open for this ambition.

Seventy-five per cent of vision achievable

The approved renovation plan includes enlarging the entrance and improving the routing through the building. It will also reinstate the monumental quality of the Bodon and Van der Steur wings. A belvedere will be built on the south side of the museum, with access below to a state-of-the-art logistics centre that will allow separate flows for artworks, supplies, waste etc., significantly improving the museum’s ability to facilitate loans. The plan will enable the realisation of approximately 75 per cent of the components of the most ambitious scenario.

Leap forward

Councilman Said Kasmi (Culture): “This is a great leap forward towards our fullest ambition! We have a fantastic plan, which we, the museum and architect, Mecanoo, are fully committed to. A future-oriented renovation worthy of our world-class collection whose benefits will be clear to both the museum and its visitors. The attendant opening up of the Museumpark will create a beautiful piece of new Rotterdam, which all Rotterdammers will be able to enjoy.”

Exhibition space

The demolition of the Robbrecht & Daem building will result in fewer square metres of exhibition space but moving the entrance area to the front will make new exhibition spaces available on the ground floor of the Bodon wing, while the Hannema Gallery will also be restored to its former glory. The envisioned new exhibition space for contemporary art will be possible only during a later phase in which the most ambitious scenario is realised. This also applies to a restaurant, offices and a knowledge centre. The Van Beuningen-De Vrieze pavilion will be demolished because the building does not meet museum standards for displaying objects and because its use as a restaurant poses logistical problems within the new plan.

Investment of 223 million euros; open in 2029

The total investment is €223 million. That is €44 million more than the funds previously made available by the council. With the approval of the municipal council, approximately half this sum will be funded from the Integral Accommodation Plan and a smaller part from the 2026-29 Culture Plan. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is responsible for the other half, which will come from third-party contributions to a fundraising campaign that has yet to be launched. The museum is scheduled to open in mid-2029, after which the municipality and the museum expect approximately 350,000 visitors per year.

Museumpark

The study also shows that improvements to the Museumpark as a whole can count upon the support of the park’s various ‘residents’. Short- and medium-term improvements to the park are feasible by reallocating existing municipal budgets.