Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, the world’s first fully accessible art depot, is located at Museumpark in the center of Rotterdam. Currently, many international museums can only showcase six to seven percent of their collections in exhibitions. The remaining 94 percent is hidden in storage. The design makes visible all these previously invisible artifacts in a unique and iconic reflective building. Designed by MDRDV, the Depot features exhibition halls, a rooftop garden, and a restaurant, in addition to an enormous amount of storage space for art and design.
The form of the 39.5-meter-high Depot is ovoid, a building ‘in the round’. Its bowl-like shape means that the ground-level footprint is small while the roof is as expansive as possible. One of the building’s most striking features is the reflective façade, which is comprised of 6,609 square meters of glass subdivided into 1,664 mirrored panels. The mirroring panels ensure the integration of the design with its surroundings, by reflecting and thus honoring the activity and the nature of the Museumpark.
Visitors can immerse themselves in the world behind the scenes of a museum also observe conservation and restoration processes, packaging, and transportation of works of art. In the Depot, artifacts are stored on the basis of climatic requirements, rather than artistic movement or era. Each storage space is provided with a specific climate that is maintained by a climate control system. There are five different climate zones, suited to works of art produced with different materials: metal, plastic, organic/inorganic, black-and-white and color photography.
As the first publicly accessible Depot in the world, the design has drawn the attention of museum officials worldwide. The project allows the entire collection to be well preserved for future generations, but also accessible for all. The Depot is expected to attract 150,000 to 250,000 visitors a year. Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen has won awards such as ARC21 Award and Public Building of the Year award.