The history of the Van Gogh Museum’s architecture is an interesting one. The main building, designed by Gerrit Rietveld, opened in 1973. Architect Kisho Kurokawa’s exhibition wing was completed in 1999. Other designers have also contributed to the rebuilding and renovation of the building. In the spring of 2014 a start was made on the construction of a new entrance foyer on Museumplein.
The Rietveld Building
The museum’s permanent collection is on display in the main building in Paulus Potterstraat, designed by the architect Gerrit Rietveld in 1963-64.
Rietveld was an important member of De Stijl, a group of progressive artists and architects active in the 1920s. Rietveld’s modernist vision stressed geometric shapes and light, open spaces. This is particularly evident in the staircase in the central hall, where the daylight streams into the museum galleries through a high skylight.
The Kurokawa Wing
Kisho Kurokawa designed the museum’s exhibition wing, which opened in 1999. Kurokawa was known above all for his original designs for Japanese museums and for Kuala Lumpur airport. All his major design principles are reflected in the exhibition wing—for example, the symbiosis between environment and architecture, and between Japanese and European culture. As a contrast to Rietveld’s cube, Kurokawa opted for asymmetry—the building is elliptical and the box-shaped print room is at an angle to the axis of the wing. The exhibition wing extension to the museum was made possible by the support of The Japan Foundation and the Tokyo-based Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance Company Ltd.
The new entrance hall opened to the public on 5 September 2015. For this entrance building, Kisho Kurokawa Architect & Associates made a sketch that consists in broad outlines of a further elaboration of the elliptical wing of the building that they had built in Amsterdam in 1999. This idea is further developed, materialized, and realized by Hans van Heeswijk Architects.
The open and transparent entrance hall has been built using the very latest glass construction techniques. The frontage consists of 650 square metres of cold bent glass, with 30 so-called 'roof fins' – also in glass and up to 12 metres in length – and 20 glass columns up to 9.4 metres high, all mounted on a load-bearing structure containing 65 tonnes of steel.
The new glass structure is positioned between the original museum building designed by Gerrit Rietveld and the more recent temporary exhibitions wing, providing better access to and between them.