Another reason to put Rotterdam on your travel wish list.

Advertisement

A museum's biggest asset is their collection, only a fraction of which are usually displayed in their exhibition spaces. The Louvre, for example, owns about 550,000 works of art and only displays about 35,000 of them. So, where is the rest of the art? Museums keep them in storage in art depots, where access is restricted to museum experts and staff only.

Exterior of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen
Credit: Ossip van Duivenbode/Courtesy of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

But that's all about to change. Enter: Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, the world's first publicly accessible art depot. Located in Museumpark in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, the depot is an impressive sight — both outside and in.

Walking around inside Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen
Credit: Iris van den Broek/Courtesy of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

The bowl-like building is entirely clad in 1,664 mirrored panels reflecting its surroundings. The structure, conceived by award-winning studio MVRDV, spans 161,459 square feet and has a rooftop forest with birch trees, fir trees, and grasses towering over visitors.

"The mirroring panels ensure the integration of the design with its surroundings, by reflecting and thus honoring the activity and the nature of the Museumpark, designed by landscape architect Yves Brunier with OMA in the '90s," according to a statement on the firm's website. "Its bowl-like shape means that the ground-level footprint is small – maintaining views into and routes through the Museumpark – while the roof is as expansive as possible."

View from the rooftop at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen
Credit: Ossip van Duivenbode/Courtesy of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

Inside, the depot stores all 151,000 artifacts owned by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Visitors can take an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the art restoration and conservation work that happens daily. But don't expect the interior to look like your typical museum exhibition space. Artworks are wrapped and arranged on racks, shelves, and cabinets by "climatic requirements" and not the artistic movement they belong to, while the film and video collections can be viewed in special projection rooms. Certain objects are stored in climate-controlled rooms that are also open to the public, if guests are accompanied by a guide. Staircases crisscross the entire space and connect exhibition rooms and curators' studios to the rooftop forest and restaurant.

Interior of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen
Credit: Ossip van Duivenbode/Courtesy of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

Heading to Rotterdam soon? The Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen opens to the public on Nov. 6. You can book tickets here.