MVRDV’s depot boijmans van beuningen OPENS TO THE PUBLIC

on saturday, november 6th 2021, the world’s first publicly accessible art depot opened its doors to the public in rotterdam. the mirrored, bowl-shaped building designed by MVRDV houses a collection of 151,000 artworks that took 172 years to collect.

the seven storey depot is situated next to museum boijmans van beuningen in rotterdam’s museumpark. MVRDV’s founding partner winy maas said ahead of the opening,‘our ambition was to give the museumpark a new dimension, and to bring different target groups, from schoolchildren to feyenoord fans, into contact with the boijmans collection in an innovative way. we hope to have added a new work of art to rotterdam’s already rich architecture collection.’

take a look inside the newly opened depot boijmans van beuningen in rotterdam
the depot’s atrium with crisscrossing staircases and glass display cases

images © ossip van duivenbode (unless stated otherwise)

the bowl-like form, which curves upwards with a 10-meter overhang, was designed by MVRDV to achieve a small footprint. 6,609 sqm of glass subdivided into 1,664 mirrored panels clad the façade in a reflective skin while a rooftop forest and cross-shaped restaurant top the 39.5-meter tall building. 

inside, a soaring 40-meter-tall atrium with crisscrossing staircases takes center stage. the atrium is filled with artwork in floating display cases, which have been created by artist marieke van diemen. boijmans has also collaborated with artist and architect john körmeling, who designed the entrance hall lighting and interiors on the ground floor. visual artist pipilotti rist created a colorful light installation to illuminate the exterior of the building at night.

take a look inside the newly opened depot boijmans van beuningen in rotterdam
artist marieke van diemen designed the floating display cases


unlike most museums, the artwork of depot boijmans van beuningen is organized not by art history periods, but by size and climate requirements across five different climate zones, meaning there’s no defined path to explore the extensive collection. visitors can use the depot app while they browse to access the story behind each piece and even save the ones they like the most in their own collection. works include ‘untitled (manhole)’ by maurizio cattelan and olafur eliasson‘s ‘notion motion’, the largest object in the collection.

depot boijmans van beuningen offers art lovers the chance to glimpse behind the scenes and take a look inside four restoration studios that are on open view. the program also contains a storage compartment, which can be viewed with a guide, and 1,900 sqm of space that can be rented out for private and corporate collections.

take a look inside the newly opened depot boijmans van beuningen in rotterdam
‘untitled (manhole)’ by maurizio cattelan

image © aad hoogendoorn

and once visitors have browsed through the immense collection, they can head to the rooftop restaurant ‘renilde’ or take a walk around the rooftop forest and enjoy views over the city. 

‘the depot is a building that makes many people happy; skaters have their own place outside that will hopefully stay, while passersby try to figure out the best place to stand to take a good selfie. as an architect, I hope that visitors will soon enjoy the interior, the rooftop forest, and the experience of being in direct contact with the art without the mediation of a curator,’  continued maas.

see designboom’s previous coverage of depot boijmans van beuningen here and here