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Dordrechts Museum

Dirk Jan Postel | Kraaijvanger

Over the last twenty years the museums and cultural institutions of Europe have generally taken on a radical new role. No longer temples of education and erudition, custodians of great works, they are now conceived as new urban services, focal sites giving their city a new identity and triggering the regeneration of whole neighbourhoods. The extension of the Dordrecht museum, originally founded in 1904, testifies to this sea change. The original museum, which houses a large collection of Dutch masters, had longer been sorely inadequate. Now, the need for more space to exhibit all the works owned by the museum tied in with the need to revamp the spaces and give them a new identity, turning it into an urban service centre proper accessible to all. Designed by Dirk Jan Postel of the Rotterdam-based firm Kraaijvanger, the new museum section, occupying an adjacent site once occupied by a former nursery school, includes new facilities: restaurant, bookshop, ample areas for temporary exhibitions, auditorium for lectures and conferences, creative laboratories and new galleries. The new spaces, but especially the museum’s broad new services have radically changed both the image and role of the museum within the city. The renovation programme clearly determines to juxtapose tradition and contemporary formats, combining old and new, solidity of tradition with contemporary demands. The new volume stands close to the existing building, at a sufficient distance to acknowledge transition but not so close as to overwhelm the old building. Transparent glass and glinting steel sit alongside warm weathered brick standing amidst leafy trees. The visitor is led into the museum by an uninterrupted circuit. Starting from outside, it leads through the completely glazed atrium flanking the old facade, into the new museum area and finally into the old building’s garden. Here a glazed walkway amidst ancient trees takes you into the original museum, now completely...

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