Normally, museums exhibit only a small part of their collections, but the Boijmans Van Beuningen gallery in Rotterdam will become the first in the world to show the lot this week.
Housed in a huge mirrored bowl-shaped depository attached to the Dutch Port City Museum, its collection of 151,000 works by artists including Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet will be accessible to visitors from Saturday.
The King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander will officially open the depot on Friday.
“It is the only fully accessible, open public repository in the world,” museum director Sjarel Ex told AFP as media visited the building on Tuesday before the opening.
“What is happening here is you don’t follow the script that was written by a curator … you see things by coincidence, and you feel like you are discovering things and connecting things.”
Normally only six to ten percent of the collections of major museums around the world like the Boijmans Van Beuningen are on display, with the rest kept in closed storage depots, Ex said.
This will now change for the Rotterdam institution – and visitors will even be able to witness the restoration of works.
“If you don’t show the works and people stop talking and thinking about a work of art, it is very likely that it sinks into oblivion – out of sight, out of heart,” he said. -he declares.
The project – whose cost of around 92 million euros was mostly covered by private donations – features five different temperature zones for different types of artwork.
The warehouse was originally created to solve a very Dutch problem – the likelihood of flooding in a low-lying country where one-third of the land is below sea level.
The old cellars below the museum risked letting water in, making them unsuitable for storage.
“Each building is a moment in time, so it definitely celebrates the climate,” said its architect, Winy Maas.
“Why? Because that’s the purpose of this building – the old records were underwater. There was flooding, so we have to put it back up.”