Wondering what to see in Amsterdam? Well, don’t go to the Stedelijk museum. There is only a small section open to see. For 7 years, the Stedelijk Museum, the museum of modern art in Amsterdam, has been closed for renovation. This was supposed to be 3 years. I guess fate has taking a bad turn for modern art in Holland. Or are people involved just making a mess?
It all started in 2003. The building on Museum square dated back to 1895. It was too old and it was too small. The fire brigade eventually had to close the museum for safety reasons.
Hadn’t they seen this coming, couldn’t they have started renovating earlier?
Yes and they did. The city council had already asked two architects to come up with a design. The job involved a large scale renovation of the existing building, located on Museum square and creating a new building that would be connected to the old part. For a long time it seemed the famous Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza was to design the museum, so it could reopened in 2007.
The council didn’t like the designs of Mr. Siza, who apparently was rather pissed off when they let him know his designs were not good enough. He said he had been working for 7 years on the project, coming up with one design after another….
So what happened next?
Well, as the first €9 million had already been spent and there wasn’t even a design on the table, the Amsterdam council decided to set up an architectural design competition. The architect with the winning design was the Dutch company Benthem Crouwel Architects. In February 2006 the final design was presented.
The New Stedelijk Museum would be opened in the summer of 2008.
Total costs involved: € 61.400.000.
By 2007 the first delay was announced. The museum would open in 2009.
In December 2008 the second delay was announced. The museum would open in March 2010.
In February 2010 the third delay was announced. The museum would open in 2011.
Now, here we are, in 2011. Last month the construction firm Midreth that was building the museum, (the only construction firm who dared to take on the assignment, because of the small amount of money they were willing to offer) went bankrupt. A new construction company has taken on the job. The museum now says it’s ready to open within a year.
Total costs involved: €107.000.000.
The renovated old part is open to the public, called Temporary Stedelijk Museum. But because of serious problems with the climate system, paintings can not be exhibited.
Rijksmuseum and Maritime Museum
Is this bizarre? No. I’m afraid not. The Museum of Art and History (Rijksmuseum) has gone through some difficulties as well. The museum, also located on Museum square, has been closed since 2003, waiting for completion of the renovation, which is now scheduled to open in 2012. A part of the museum is open though. The Maritime Museum is also closed for renovation and plans to open in september of 2011.