The Dutch national photography museum, Nederlands Fotomuseum, will open in a new prime location in Rotterdam in 2025. The museum will move to a newly renovated historic warehouse situated on the Rijnhaven harbour, providing a new home for the national collection of over six million photographs.
The eight-story building will include dedicated exhibition spaces, permanent facilities to house the collection, a photography bookshop and library, education rooms, museum café and a rooftop restaurant with a panoramic view of the Rotterdam skyline. The acquisition of the new building fulfils the Nederlands Fotomuseum’s longstanding commitment to developing a dynamic meeting place and an international platform for photography.
Birgit Donker, Director of the Nederlands Fotomuseum, said:
It is fantastic that we are in a position to realize this dream. A building of our own – a fully renovated historic building – where we can generously welcome visitors, with a central highlight on our invaluable collections and six huge floors for sharing visual stories and connecting people. Santos will be the place where photography is celebrated to the full, from amateur photos to art photography and all that comes with it.
The acquisition of the new building, which has been made possible by a donation from the philanthropic foundation Droom en Daad, ensures that the Nederlands Fotomuseum will remain in Rotterdam. The opening of the newly renovated warehouse, known as the Santos, is planned for 2025. Until then, the museum will remain open in its current location, the Las Palmas complex.
The Santos Warehouse
The nationally listed Santos building is a hidden gem on the Rijnhaven on Katendrecht. Architects J.P. Stok Wzn and J.J. Kanters designed the warehouse on behalf of N.V. Blauwhoedenveem, which opened the doors in 1903 and used it as a warehouse for Brazilian coffee. Since 2012, the German design group stilwerk has been transforming the neglected historical building into an architectural gem.
Alexander Garbe, owner of stilwerk, said:
We are very pleased that our efforts have culminated in the best possible outcome: an owner for whom the building was meant to be, and who appreciates the careful renovation. With the Nederlands Fotomuseum as its new owner, the public will be able to enjoy this beautiful cultural heritage of Rotterdam.
Santos is one of the best-preserved warehouses in the Netherlands, with an interior in virtually original condition. The renovation was carefully carried out by Leiden-based contractor Burgy. Originally, the building had six nearly identical storeys, with a cast-iron column structure. There is a basement below the entire surface area of the building. In the middle, a generous atrium has been built with a central stairwell. Two new storeys have been added to the historical building, the upper one of which is enveloped by a ‘crown’ with a semi-transparent facade. The doors of the warehouse open at both the south and north sides.
The Nederlands Fotomuseum, located in the Las Palmas business centre since 2007, is taking advantage of the move to Santos to develop into an international platform for photography. The building’s open floor plan and closed facades with minimal daylight makes Santos ideal for the museum’s collection of over six million photographs and light-sensitive photographic objects.
The coming period will be used to further prepare the building for the Nederlands Fotomuseum. This includes a new, permanent depot for the collection, with 175 valuable archives from Ed van der Elsken and others; early daguerreotypes; and contemporary work by photographers such as Erwin Olaf and Dana Lixenberg. There will be spaces for several exhibition areas, education rooms, a well-stocked photography bookshop and library, a museum café on the ground floor and a restaurant on the sixth floor. The new museum will also give a prominent place to the Gallery of Honour of Dutch Photography, an exhibition telling the story of photography from the Netherlands from 1842 to the present day.
The Nederlands Fotomuseum was established in 2003, thanks in part to a bequest by Hein Wertheimer, an amateur photographer who upon his death left 22 million guilders to stimulate photography and to establish a museum for Dutch photography. His bequest, known as the Wertheimer Fund, is managed by the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, from which the museum receives an annual contribution.
Nederlands Fotomuseum, Statendam 1 (Wilhelminapier), 3072 AR Rotterdam, nederlandsfotomuseum.nl