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Benthem Crouwel Architects - Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Founded in 1874, theStedelijk Museum Amsterdam (lit.Municipal Museum Amsterdam) is a museum for classicmodern andcontemporary art inAmsterdam in theNetherlands. It has been housed on the Paulus Potterstraat, next toMuseum SquareMuseumplein and to theRijksmuseumVan Gogh Museum and theConcertgebouw, inAmsterdam Zuid since 1895. The original red brick, Neo-Renaissancestyle building was designed by architect Adriaan Willem Weissman. The museum is currently being renovated and enlarged, and expects the grand reopening in 2012.

The collection contains some 90,000 objects from a variety of disciplines. Highlights of the collection include The Beanery by Edward Kienholz and works by Kazimir MalevichBauhaus and De Stijl. Since 1909, the Stedelijk has been devoted to collecting thought-provoking contemporary art, later augmenting its collection with photography and design objects. In the course of the last century, the Stedelijk Museum became renowned as one of the world's most influential museums for twentieth-century art. The collection rivals that of the Centre Pompidou and MoMA. Since its inception, the Stedelijk Museum has consistently reflected new currents and developments in art and design in both its exhibition and acquisitions policy. Today, education is a prominent aspect of museum policy, which is evident from the Stedelijk's emphasis on innovative and classic modern presentations. The Bertolt Brecht quotation "It is democratic to turn 'the small circle of connoisseurs' into a large circle of connoisseurs" embodies the Stedelijk's vision.

The ‘old’ StedelijkAdriaan Willem Weissman, architect of the city of Amsterdam, designed the building for the museum in 1895. With its design of the upper façade and tower in a combination of pale stone and red brick, the exterior references 16th century Dutch Renaissance architecture. In 1938, Sandberg had the interior walls painted white, creating ‘white cube’ gallery spaces. When he had the opportunity some years later, in 1954, a largely glass extension arose, flanking the Van Baerlestraat. It came to be referred to as the ‘Sandberg Wing’. Sandberg also replaced the museum’s heavy, rather uninviting doors by a glass entrance.

The ‘new’ Stedelijk
Due to poor maintenance and the lack of modern facilities, including climate control, the building was no longer able to meet today’s standards. Nor did it have the space to feature the highlights of the collection on permanent display; since its beginnings, over a century ago, the collection had vastly increased. The art depots and workshops had also become far too cramped. In 2004, a jury awarded Benthem Crouwel architects the renovation and construction contract for their daring design for the new building, fondly referred to as the ‘bathtub’. The new Stedelijk will have an exhibition surface area of 8000 m2; double its previous gallery space.

Construction delays
At the time of the plans designed by architect Siza, the reopening was scheduled for 2007. In 2004, when a new competition was held it became clear that this date was not achievable. Although the renovated original building was completed in early 2010, conditions were not suitable for exhibiting artworks because there was no climate control system; this will be installed in the new wing. The press poured criticism on the delays. A campaign by Dutch cultural entrepreneur Otto Nan, ‘Stedelijk Do Something’, urging people text their disappointment at the delays, drew considerable media attention and a huge response from social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Otto Nan hoped that what he referred to as an ‘amicable coup’ would attract political attention with an occupation of Museumplein. Moreover, by sending SMS messages, people could raise money to help the museum re-launch a little sooner.

The New Stedelijk
 After the planned renovation and expansion, the highlights of the collection will be on display in the old building (in a series of changing presentations). The new wing (fondly referred to as the ‘bathtub’) will primarily host experimental, compelling exhibitions and film and video art. The exhibition program includes monographic exhibitions about Ron Arad and Mike Kelly. The re-opening, previously heralded for spring 2010 [13], is now expected in 2011. The restored original building will go ahead and open in 2010.

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