New displays of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection on view from 10 June 2017

From 10 June 2017 the museum’s rich collections will be re-installed in an unconventional series of displays. Guest curator Carel Blotkamp takes over the baton from Peter Hecht. Unique to the new displays, ‘The Collection as Time Machine’, is the interspersing of old masters with modern art, creating a chronology with a twist. The new arrangement of the collections provides a fresh take on art history with a special focus on modern art since 1945.

Slow watching

On average, museum visitors spend eight seconds looking at a work of art. ‘If I can stretch that to ten or fifteen seconds with these new displays, I will have succeeded,’ says Carel Blotkamp (72), artist and emeritus professor of art history at the VU University in Amsterdam. ‘I not only want to make people look for longer but also more intensely. So that visitors don’t trot through from beginning to end in an hour and a half, but engage in slow watching.’

Mark Rothko, Grey, Orange on Maroon, No. 8, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Fotograaf: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam.
Mark Rothko, Grey, Orange on Maroon, No. 8, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Fotograaf: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam.
Donald Judd, Untitled (Zonder titel), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam / Creditline fotograaf: Jannes Linders, Rotterdam.
Donald Judd, Untitled (Zonder titel), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam / Creditline fotograaf: Jannes Linders, Rotterdam.

How and what

In approximately three months from now, on 10 June, the museum’s permanent collection will be presented in a radically new fashion. Because the change is happening in phases, some works are already ‘disappearing’ from the galleries into storage. Blotkamp has been invited as guest curator because of his successful track record with collection displays at other museums, including the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. What is his approach this time? ‘I’m returning to the chronological order, but with a twist and a stronger accent on art after 1945, with lots of attention for the hidden parts of the collection such as prints and drawings.’

Meester van de Virgo inter Virgines, De verkondiging aan Maria, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen / Creditline fotograaf: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam.
Meester van de Virgo inter Virgines, De verkondiging aan Maria, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen / Creditline fotograaf: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam.

Time machine

The collection is being presented in eight blocks, which jump across time. ‘You travel through the collection in a time machine, as it were, and the transitions are abrupt. In this way I hope to sharpen people’s eyes and stimulate their minds.’ The design is also unique: each block has a different colour. ‘Light for modern art and darker for old masters. The colours come from the palette that the artist Peter Struycken developed specially for museums. For religious artworks we are using violet, it will be gorgeous.’ What is Blotkamp’s measure of success for his displays? ‘If people understand the true wealth and high quality of the Boijmans collection and come back again and really absorb the works.'


Work in progress from 6 March to 9 June

Work on changing the displays began on 6 March. Galleries 2-7 and 24-35 will be inaccessible until 25 April. The new displays will open on 10 June 2017. Until then only parts of the collection can be seen. Our invigilators and the staff at the information desk can tell you which galleries are currently open. If you are coming to look at a particular artwork, check here whether it is on display before your visit.