In the heart of Rotterdam’s central museum campus, a mirrored vessel designed by the hometown MVRDV is currently under construction to house the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection of approximately 151,000 artworks. Coined the “Depot,” the building will feature over 16,000 square feet of space and serve as the world’s first art storage facility that also offers access to the museum’s entire collection without the mediation of a curator.

Located on the northern edge of Rotterdam’s Museumpark (realized by OMA with Yves Brunier in 1994), the building aims to be less visible from the exterior and instead offer more public access to the interior. With the intent of increasing Museumpark’s attractiveness as an international art complex, the Depot is roughly 130 feet tall and will be completely clad in mirrored panels once complete. A public route zigzags through the building, where 99 percent of the collection will be on display, among seven different climatic zones that will facilitate ideal conditions for art storage, offices, and the public. The rooftop terrace will offer a view over the city and harbor 78 planted trees, a sculpture garden, exhibition space, and a restaurant. The museum will also offer commercial storage spaces rented to private collectors, corporate collections, and other museums. If the renters so choose, these spaces may also be publicly accessible.

A construction site with mirrored panels being installed on a facade

The installation of the building’s reflective cladding is also underway, and donors can “sponsor” individual panels. (Rob Glastra)

The Depot represents a new typology that museums can learn from. The existing Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen building has been in desperate need for renovations, related mostly to its outdated electronic and climate-control systems and asbestos remediation. The motivation for the project was to replace the museum’s current storage facilities, which are too small, unsafe, and obsolete. However, even after the renovation of the museum buildings, an external storage facility was still necessary.

The total investment cost of the project is approximately $96.5 million and was funded through a public-private initiative between the City of Rotterdam (which owns the majority of the collection), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, and the De Verre Bergen Foundation. The museum is continuing to fundraise among sponsors and donors; one initiative includes a scheme for “adopting” one of the mirrored panels.

The building should be completed at the beginning of 2020 with an official opening in 2021. Once finished, the build must sit empty in the intervening year to allow for drying time, calibration of the climate control systems, and artwork installation.

Related Stories