All You Can View: Dutch Museum Becomes First to Offer Public Access to Complete Collection

A Dutch museum on Thursday unveiled a huge ball-shaped, mirrored building that will be the first in the world to offer the public access to its complete collection.

Most museums display only a tiny proportion of the works they hold, but the Boijmans Van Beuningen in the port city of Rotterdam hopes to change all that.

The giant building, which is still under construction, will let art lovers see all of its 160,000 masterpieces after it opens in autumn 2021.

Currently the museum only shows around six percent of its collection, director Sjarel Ex told AFP as he gave media a preview of the “depot”.

“We are the first in the world,” he said.

The museum’s collection includes works by Dutch painters Rembrandt and Vincent van Gogh, French impressionist Claude Monet and Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.

While some museums allow limited access to their storage areas, the goal is to permanently keep the Boijmans Van Beuningen collection open, with the public even able to watch art works being restored.

Winy Maas, architect and co-founder of MVRDV agency that designed the depot, said that it meant “you can visit everything, basically”.

“I see that it opens up minds for other museums and other countries, somehow to say well, we have a public responsibility of our collection — 99 percent is in the storage, not a good idea,” Maas said.

The only comparable facility offering limited access to its stored collection was the Schaulager in Basel, Switzerland, “and we learned from that also and this enlarges that possibility to the max,” Maas added.

The 92-million-euro project is mainly funded by private donations.

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