The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam is a highly anticipated project by Netherlands-based architecture firm MVRDV. Branded as the world’s first publicly accessible art depot, the structure will store 151,000 pieces from the nearby Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The new station means that, unlike most museums where a large portion of the collection remains in storage, the entire body of artwork can be enjoyed by the public.
The building is 130 feet (39.5 meters) tall and curves outward as it extends towards the sky. The resulting shape and the mirrored façade create the effect of a giant silver bowl that reflects the surrounding area. In an effort to blend into the skyline, the architects covered the structure in 1,664 mirrored glass panels. It is topped with a lush garden full of trees and a rooftop restaurant. “As an architecture firm, it was our mission to allow a special art experience to go hand-in-hand with a building that takes an equally special form,” says Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV.
Within the “special form,” the architects have developed five climate zones carefully designed to preserve the artwork. Visitors can explore the paintings, photographs, films, sculptures, drawings, and so much more through a series of storage facilities, studios, and galleries. Also included in the Depot are restoration areas.
The most iconic feature of the building’s interior is a crisscrossing staircase in a large atrium that connects visitors to different areas. As visitors walk through the space, they can see different parts of the building and various artworks stored throughout.
The unique way visitors experience art is closely tied with the logic behind its creation. Sjarel Ex and Ina Klaassen, directors of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, speak about the future of the collection. “With the Depot, the museum is giving its collection, which is largely owned by the municipality but also largely by private individuals, a permanent future. Visitors can now see for themselves the love, care, and attention to detail with which each individual work of art is preserved for future generations. The museum, the public, and Rotterdammers are going to have a lot of fun with the Depot.”