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Boijmans van Beuningen depot. Photo: Ossip van Duivenbode.
Boijmans van Beuningen depot. Photo: Ossip van Duivenbode.

Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen to Open to Public with 150k Works on View

Two decades in the making, the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen will open November 6 as the first publicly accessible art storage facility in the world. The recently completed Rotterdam museum, dubbed the “mirrored mixing bowl” in architectural circles for its curving, reflective form, is home to the collection of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which is closed for renovation until 2028. On display within its glassy confines are 63,000 paintings, photographs, films, design objects, contemporary art installations and sculptures, as well as 88,000 prints and drawings. Visitors to the institution will not only be able to apprehend the art but will get to watch staff actively restoring, repackaging, and transporting it.

The depot, described as “incredible” by joint director Sjarel Ex, speaking to Artnet News, is unique in that museums are typically only able to publicly display 10 percent of their works at a given time. The concept for a structure that would permit a comprehensive display of the Museum Bojijmans Van Beuningen’s holdings arose after that institution flooded repeatedly, causing portions of the collection to have to be stored off-site.

The 167,000-square-foot facility, designed by Rotterdam architecture firm MVRDV, features a rooftop green space and five separate climates within which the works are arranged according to size and conservation needs, rather than by theme, artist, or time period. The items are stored in movable racks or in display cases, and can be pulled out for viewing; those sensitive to light or heat are housed in cabinets and may be viewed only by appointment.

“You’ll go through the collection like you would visit a library looking for a book and finding three others,” Ex told The Guardian. “We also decided to take private collectors, to give private collectors opportunities to work with us in the same building. So you see when you go around and you see the floors, you will meet with several collections that enjoy a collaboration with the museum.”

Though the museum has been hotly anticipated, the model the subject of great interest among museum professionals around the globe, it is not expected to replace the curated institution whose collection it houses. “We can’t function without a museum,” Ina Klaassen, the depot’s second joint director told The Guardian. “This is just the first stage of the museum of the future.”