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3096 Haunting Boijmans van Beuningen, 2007

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Museum Boijmans van Beuningen / Rotterdam / Education space

It is the job of a museum to collect objects of beauty, and to reveal the beauty of today’s world. This design for the educational space at Boijmans van Beuningen museum reflects the interaction between public culture and the cultureloving public. Public and private overlap as much as possible, showcasing the public property and depicting reality in layers. On arrival, visitors are greeted by a member of the museum staff seated behind the glass of the reception desk, waiting to escort them into the space. A personal oracle can usually tell you far more than any information board. Next to the reception desk is a media display case, from which the museum can transmit its own broadcasts. A solid box and a glass box form a cinema in which white chairs are arranged like a gallery of design icons. Behind the screen stand tables in a space that accommodates educational workshops for children and young people. The tiles, towels and buckets in the bathroom tell miraculous stories of water both past and present. On the other side of the educational space is a group of specialised display tables. Schoolchildren and other visitors are displayed behind the glass, along with cultural objects from the Boijmans collection. At the ends of the display cases are workspaces with chairs affording a view of the interior of the study space. Sitting on these chairs, visitors have a view of paintings, objects and statues positioned behind each other at various distances, that can be taken in at a single glance. In a double sided glass case, seated amongst a series of tangible museum pieces, visitors can link their laptop to an online Boijmans archive. This allows them to do their own individual research in the presence of the public art collection – an interaction that broadens the scope of both. The curator can relate a story by filling the glass display cases with different objects, or ordering them differently, or even linking the cases together, so that a single theme can be explored in a series of frames, in a kind of frozen documentary that visitors can study at their leisure. Peering into the display case, the visitor enters a painted world. A portrait peers back through the glass which reflects their face, and the two images merge in the mind’s eye. Layering reveals a reality different from that to which we are accustomed. Inside and outside turn each other inside out in the educational space, which encompasses looking and watching, mastery and study, the eternal and the everyday, reality and imagination.

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