The intended ambitious renovation of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam is financially ‘not feasible’. The Municipal Executive has reconsidered the plan, whereby the municipality would have to contribute a total of 34 million euros more. The municipality, owner of the museum building from 1935, announced this in the town hall on Tuesday.
The plan for a new pavilion for contemporary art, in an adjacent car park of the Welgelegen Group, has been canceled. “The (recently reopened) talks about the purchase of the site and buildings have proved fruitless,” said a report. Talks about rent or long lease with the real estate investment company of multimillionaire Michel Perridon also yielded nothing.
Plans for a restaurant in the pavilion and offices in adjacent, historic villas of the Welgelegen Group have therefore been cancelled. An intended knowledge center including a library and archive has also been scrapped.
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Furthermore, the municipality has not been able to raise external financing to give the underlying Museum Park a ‘quality boost’. The intended refurbishment should have cost a total of 20 million euros.
Fire hazard and flooding
Boijmans had to close in 2018-2019 due to overdue maintenance by successive colleges: there was a risk of fire, flooding and the building had to be cleaned of asbestos. In addition to the necessary renovation, the city council also wanted an ambitious renovation. Boijmans could thus grow from 300,000 to 500,000 visitors. But there was no building plan for a long time and raising external financing (initially 55 million euros) was very difficult.
Sketch of the new passage from the city to the Museum Park. Impression Mecanoo
The college now calls the sober renovation plan a “triple jump” to the future. Boijmans is being renovated in such a way that a pavilion for modern art can still be realized at a later date, if there is funding. The planned reopening has again been moved slightly further from the end of 2028 to the first half of 2029, which means that Boijmans will be closed for a total of ten years. The expected number of visitors has also been cut, from 500,000 to 350,000.
The city council will vote on the sober renovation plan in December. Alderman Arjan van Gils (D66) of finance is confident, because there has already been an “informal” survey of support in the council, he said.
If the city council agrees, it must return to a own motion; in February last year, the council confirmed that the deficits for Boijmans’ ambitious renovation should not be paid with more ‘municipal funds’.
Tunnel through Museum Park
The total costs are now estimated at 223 million euros, plus 10 million euros for the construction of an underground logistics transport tunnel in the Museum Park from the Westzeedijk. That 223 million euros is 44 million more than initially envisaged: Boijmans wants to contribute 20 million euros through fundraising and the municipality should pay an extra 24 million, plus the 10 million euros for the transport tunnel.
Sketch of it Belvedère with the loading dock and workshops underneath. Impression Mecanoo
In addition, there is a “significant uncertainty” of 15 million euros in the estimated construction costs, according to the council proposal. The mentioned construction costs of 233 million in reality vary between 208 and 238 million.
In addition, there are more financial uncertainties due to possible legal proceedings. In the current plan of the architectural firm Mecanoo, two attached wings are to be demolished: the Robbrecht and Daem building section from 2003 and the Henket pavilion at the rear from 1991. The demolition will reduce the total exhibition space of Boijmans.
With the demolition, Boijmans’ total exhibition space will decrease.
Mecanoo wants to demolish the Robbrecht and Daem part in order to create a new entrance at the front and expose the older parts of the building. The Belgian architects have already announced legal proceedings. The Henket pavilion, which housed a restaurant, cannot easily be converted into a full-fledged exhibition space.
Alderman Van Gils did not want to anticipate any legal settlements with the architects.
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