Behind the mirrors of Depot Boijmans

Four oakwood pivot doors

Behind the round mirrored façade on the edge of the Museumpark in Rotterdam is the first publicly accessible art depot in the world: Depot Boijmans van Beuningen. Here you can admire the full collection of the museum of the same name – over one hundred and fifty thousand works of art. Before the depot was built, most of the collection was stored and put away in several depots, hidden from view. Now, the entire building has art on display: from the impressive entrance to the award-winning roof garden. The sixth and top floor is adorned with four – or rather five – elegant oakwood pivot doors.

Behind the scenes

It all started in 2017, when the first pile for the depot was driven into the ground. Over four years later, Depot Boijmans was officially opened, by none other than King Willem-Alexander. Where the museum has only room to display 3,000 works of art, the depot has room for over fifty times that number. Visitors can either wander the six floors by themselves, or go on a guided tour to discover the collection. As the depot is a working building, you get a view behind the scenes of the museum work during your visit. You get a chance to look over the shoulders of experts during the restorative process and see with your own eyes how works of art are prepared for transport.

A new perspective on art

Depot Boijmans does not organize exhibitions: the collection is classified by material and discipline. To ensure optimum protection of the works of art, fourteen climate-controlled compartments have been set up. There are five climates and various humidity levels so as to create the perfect conditions for paintings, metals, organic and non-organic materials, and for black-and-white and color photography. As the depot shows art from a different perspective, chances are that you will be positively surprised by works of art that you did not know yet. And the building's round shape allows you to view the collection from all angles. Whatever your position, a new artistic world will open up to you.

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Living painting

The depot was designed by the architect Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV, a Rotterdam-based architectural firm. His goal was to design an approachable building that showed in a transparent way how you preserve an art collection. This thought is in line with the round shape of the depot: as it doesn’t have a front or back, it looks attractive from all sides. In order to let the building blend into its surroundings, Maas opted for the eye-catching reflective façade, consisting of 6,609 square meters of glass, divided over 1,664 mirrored panels. This makes the depot look like a living painting: it looks different every day, dependent on the weather circumstances.

Oakwood eye-catchers

The high-speed glass elevators bring you to the upper floor of the depot in no time. There, you find the event area and the restaurant with roof garden. They are connected by a footbridge, which visitors can use to cross the atrium. This bridge is called ‘showcase 13’, as it also has works of art on display. The line of pivot doors between the event area and the restaurant is a real eye-catcher. Four oakwood FritsJurgens pivot doors elegantly close - or give access to - the room. If there is no event going on, they are open – at 90 degrees. When open, the pivot doors placed alongside each other allow visitors an impressive view of the skyline of Rotterdam.

Two in one

The doors were manufactured by the Amsterdam-based Roord Binnenbouw, in collaboration with Kersten Constructie. Each door is 2 meters wide, 4.5 meter high, and weighs about 300 kilos. Despite their huge weight, they only need a little push to get into motion, says Jeroen Iemhoff. As sales manager with FritsJurgens, he is closely involved in the Boijmans-project. “Time and time again, visitors are surprised how easy it is to open and close the doors. Because of the mirrors placed above them, they look even bigger than they actually are. The fact that you don't see any of the hinges or locks gives a very special effect. Nice detail: one of the four large doors contains a smaller one, especially for the catering staff. This way, they can enter the event area without having to open the large doors.”

System M+

To be able to fully control the movement of the doors, the FritsJurgens System M+ was opted for. “This way, you allow the doors to close smoothly and carefully, despite their large size,” explains Iemhoff. One of the client's wishes was to be able to open the doors at the same angle, so that visitors are invited to enter the event area. System M+ is perfect for this. Thanks to its 30º Speed Control, you can set the speed of the closing movement according to wish, and by using Damper Control you ensure that the doors close elegantly and smoothly. And because you can fix the hinge at various angles, the four pivot doors at the depot always look sleek – both open and closed.

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