Can you hack today’s musea system? Yes, you can. Or at least, I think you can. Let me introduce you to Depot Rotterdam. It’s a part of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, a contemporary art museum. The Depot is the repository for their art, their archive, a conservators Walhalla. And the good news? It is open to the public.
It welcomes you with zig-zag open staircases, glass vitrines, and big window frames. Under guidance, you can visit the special temperature rooms. Big spaces, filled with art, stored in racks, piled above each other, like a warehouse. Not curated by themes, but archived by the conditions, under which the arts need to be preserved. Simply stored based on size, format and material. The artworks are placed behind thick walls, with now and then a window to reveal the storage space. Sometimes the artwork is visibly shining on a rack, sometimes they are stored in blind wooden crates. To not become a window shopper, but actually have a look within the storage space, you can take a guided tour. I took a tour with a small group and we were guided to a closed, wooden box. Nothing more to see than the outside, not a small hint of the piece that lies within. The guide told us about the piece inside; what it looked like, which color, which material, how precious it was, and how it was acquired. As we only saw a wooden box, we had to do it with our imagination. We were bewitched, could only glance, our mouths slightly open. Yes, it felt like the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, but then better.
So indeed, this depot feels good, somehow liberating. Just strolling through art, experiencing totally other stories, not forced by certain topics, specified themes, or some other curated societal issue that needs attention. No, just walk & watch & imagine. Be curious, be impressed, by the total randomness of the things you see.
A bit more about the building. It looks like a big UFO has landed on Museum park. The story goes that it was inspired by a shiny silver fruit bowl that was standing on the table, near the urban scaled model. Not sure if it’s true, but with its alien appearance and a facade fully made out of mirrors it does attract every visitor, rocking as the selfie queen of Rotterdam.
Client: Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
scroll down to see more