The controversial new depot of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam is unique in the world. With its round shape and reflective surface, it is a work of art in itself. 151,000 art objects are stored there safely and sustainably thanks to the systems of Bruynzeel Storage Systems.

Twan Janssen, Bruynzeel’s project manager for the museum depot, traveled dozens of times from Panningen to Rotterdam in recent years. “I don’t know how many kilometers I have covered in total,” he laughs. “But there are quite a few.”

From the end of 2016, Janssen was involved in the design of the museum depot. “Usually you spend six months working on such a project, sometimes a little longer. But this project took more than five years. That’s really exceptional. It was therefore a very complex and unique project for us.”


Frequent travel between Limburg and Rotterdam was necessary, because the layout of the new depot required a lot of coordination and consultation. The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is not just any building. Designed by the architects of MVRDV, the more than 35 meters high building in the Rotterdam museum park, with its special spherical shape and its all-round mirroring surface, makes you smile. “A work of art in itself”, say experts.

“It is of course fantastic that we as Bruynzeel have been able to contribute to this”, says Janssen. “Really something to be proud of. But it was a challenge.”



Round and rectangular don’t go well together. Nevertheless, Bruynzeel’s rectangular racks, painting racks, cabinets and other storage systems had to be given a place within the sphere with its sloping walls. And in such a way that the available space was used optimally. Only with a sophisticated layout can you store 151,000 artifacts of all shapes and sizes in the available space.

Bruynzeel has been entrusted with that, says Janssen: “We are used to customization, we do that more often. But this was very exceptional and required more customization than usual. Due to the specific shape of the building, a sphere, we had to apply many non-standard solutions. For example on the second floor, where the large painting racks are located. They run on rails. Normally they are parallel to each other. Here they fan out from the center of the building to the walls. Drawing that out on the computer is one thing, but actually applying it requires a lot of skill. Also don’t forget that those racks have to be robust to support the great weight of all those paintings. Such a rack may only be extended and retracted once every few years, but it must always run smoothly.”



The depot also houses a number of storage areas where third parties can house their art collections. Those parties also had their own wishes and requirements, which Bruynzeel had to respond to.

The design process itself was at least as complex, says Janssen. “After the tender and quotation phase, it was far from finished. Normally you make a design that you always have to adjust during the installation phase, but those changes are generally limited. In this project, changes were continuously made from within the organization during the construction and installation phase. If we made a plan, it had to be changed again due to the adjustments. Painting racks closer together, racks in a slightly different arrangement. Of course we can and we do. But it required a lot of flexibility from our people.”


Have a say

In addition, many parties were involved in the construction and layout, who also had their say. “If we had made changes at one’s request, other stakeholders also had to comment on this. Working with all those companies required a lot of communication and consultation.”

The construction of the building was considerably delayed due to foundation problems. That did not make things any easier for Bruynzeel. “It’s one of the reasons this project has taken so long. We constantly had to adapt our own planning to the overall planning. We were able to gain some time by already carrying out a number of installation work during construction, such as installing the rails for the painting racks. In a way, we have grown along with the building, floor by floor.”

Later on, logistical problems arose when the large freight elevator, which Bruynzeel needed to transport materials, was not ready on time. “We had to use the smaller lifts. But yes, there were dozens of other companies that had to use them as well.”


The latest techniques have been used in the design of the various compartments within the depot. This applies, for example, to the drive system of the racks with large objects. “The movement of the racks is done electronically. To prevent objects from being damaged by impact, the movement must be very gradual. We have used our new electronic drive system Dynamic II for this, which offers more options and is more user-friendly. For example, you can control it with an app.”

The pull-out painting racks for hanging the paintings are produced by Bruynzeel. “But the dimensions of these painting racks were slightly different from the standard. To give you an impression: our mesh frames are 50 millimeters lower than the standard. Just calculate what that means for the capacity if you have 128 painting racks, each 6 meters long. You have to reclaim that space elsewhere.”

 All in all, it has been quite a challenging but also unique assignment, says Janssen. But he looks back on it with pride.


Bruynzeel supplied, among other systems:

meters of static shelving

meters of longspan

meters of pallet racks

m2 painting racks

glass sliding doors

Would you like to know more about the systems we installed at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen? See our brochure in which you can find more information about these systems.

Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in the press