One of Rotterdam's leading museums, the Boijmans van Beuningen is getting ready to offer the public what few if any other large museums can claim: a view of every one of the 150,000 objects in its collections.
In December, it will open a new building next to its original 1930s gallery, designed as an 'open storage' facility that will allow visitors to see everything, if occasionally at a distance. The building, officially described as a warehouse and already nicknamed The Depot, is a €55 million project designed by Dutch firm MVRDV.
Most major museums have only small portions of their overall holdings on view at any moment, a fact that has given rise to much argument over large holdings that the public can never see, but which can't be sold. The idea of open storage for some parts of collections has been tried at museums including the Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums in New York and London's Victoria and Albert, but the Boijmans' project is the first try at making an entire collection visible.
The plan got a jump start after a 2013 flood in the basement storage areas of the old building; fortunately little art was damaged but extensive building work is needed. The new building will be fully open by the end of next year, and the old buildling will close for renovation.