amsterdam: stedelijk museum renewal

© stedelijk museum / photography: john lewis marshall - new museum extension by benthem van crouwel architects

today amsterdam's stedelijk museum officially reopens its doors after a renovation and expansion that took a staggering eight years to complete. it hasn't been an easy ride for the netherlands' leading venue for modern and contemporary art. unfortunate decision making, disputes and delays, all have contributed to a very slow realization of this prestigious project. it all started in 1993 with a winning design by robert venturi, who was later replaced by architect álvaro siza vieira when a new and ambitious museum director appeared onto the scene. the portuguese pritzker prize winner was also disposed of because his designs were vetoed and proved to be too costly, and it wasn't until 2004 that a specially formed commission selected benthem + crouwel from five dutch practices to finally do the job. since 1895 the stedelijk museum has been housed in a historic building by adriaan weissman that was specifically designed for the institute. although a new wing was added in 1954 a new wing was opened, the additional exhibition space proved to be inadequate over the years. and as regulations regarding the preservation of artworks became more stringent, the need for a complete overhaul and extensive expansion became a top priority. 

the new annex by benthem + crouwel measures 10,023 sqm. [107,887 sq.ft.] and almost doubles the museum's floor space. the rectangular white shape, canted upward at one end, is supported by white columns. the structure spreads outward at the top into a flat roof. the stedelijk museum's new entrance and lobby, museum store and restaurant are all located on the glass-encased ground floor, facing the rather non-descript grassy plains of the square. while on the upper floors an expansive new exhibition space, auditorium and offices are accommodated. the inaugural exhibition of the renewed museum is called beyond imagination, a showcase which provides an international perspective on dutch art today. on display are new projects and commissioned works by 20 young artists, both dutch nationals as well as those born abroad, who are all active in the netherlands. they were asked by the curators to consider the ways in which boundaries are currently blurred between reality and imagination, authenticity and role-playing, especially in relation to developments in politics, finance and media. location: museumplein 10 [zuid].

© stedelijk museum / photography: ernst-jan van deursen + john lewis marshall - new museum annex, entrance + lobby , lower level gallery [top to bottom]