Dutch Museum Unveils Once-Hidden Art Collection in New Mirrored Warehouse

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
November 6, 2021 Updated: November 6, 2021

ROTTERDAM—Dutch art and design museum Boijmans Van Beuningen on Friday opened a stunning mirrored warehouse called the “Depot” to display the great bulk of its collection normally kept in underground storage, hidden from public view.

While most museums only have the space to show a small part of their overall collection, the Rotterdam art museum has now unveiled 151,000 works of art for the public in an airy, multi-storied, steel and glass building.

View of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam
Dutch museum Boijmans Van Beuningen opens its “Depot,” a striking new building to house the parts of its collection normally hidden from public view in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Nov. 5, 2021. (Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters)
View of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam
Dutch museum Boijmans Van Beuningen opens its “Depot,” a striking new building to house the parts of its collection normally hidden from public view in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Nov. 5, 2021. (Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters)

Boijmans director Sjarrel Ex told Reuters that art museums typically show just the tip of the iceberg of their collection, meaning a staggering 93 percent of works are never on display.

“There is a moment where the things you [cannot] look at sink into oblivion,” Ex said, adding the new building can accommodate over 60,000 visitors a year on guided tours or following a set walking route.

The depot, which features figurative Dutch art from the early Middle Ages to the 21st century and has one of the world’s most significant collections of drawings, offers a very different experience from the usual curated museums.

“There is no editing in this depot at all,” Ex said, adding that people can explore the warehouse at random according to their own curiosities and glean information about works on a special app or by scanning a QR-code.

Long-running plans to create the public depot got an extra boost in 2013 when flooding threatened the museum’s collection in underground storage. It was decided that the artworks would be safer on view with good security above ground, Ex said.

By Piroschka van de Wouw

Reuters