The Kunsthal is one of Rotterdam’s cultural treasures. The museum is inspiring in its architectural design, as well as in the host of exhibitions it continually puts on. Its building, by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, makes use of unexpected design features that offers surprises around every corner.
- Admire an example of award-winning modern architecture.
- Surround yourself in exhibitions that attract audiences from around the world.
- Take a walk through the Museum Park and visit other museums in the area.
About the Kunsthal
Thanks to the creative prowess of architect Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), the Kunsthal is an icon of contemporary architecture. The building incorporates unexpected materials and innovative design elements that make it truly distinctive. The inspiring design provides the perfect backdrop for showcasing the creative achievements of Dutch and international artists.
An icon of modern architecture
The Kunsthal was designed by Koolhaas and his team at the OMA between 1988 and 1989. It officially opened in 1992, and the design proved an immediate success. Spurred on by the museum’s purpose as a center of artistic inspiration, Koolhaas pushed the boundaries of architecture and came up with a building that is often likened to a work of art in itself.
The box-shaped building leads visitors seamlessly through seven exhibition spaces via a sloping, spiraling floor. Intriguing design elements can be found around every corner, from the position of the main gallery, which appears to hover above street level, to the orange steel beam that extends over the edge of the roof. The building’s industrial feel was achieved through the use of materials that were previously unheard of for art museums. Koolhaas chose to use corrugated plastic, raw concrete, galvanized steel and roughly sawn tree trunks for their functional properties as well as aesthetic appeal.
What to see in the Kunsthal
Equally as impressive as the building is the Kunsthal’s rich variety of exhibitions. Without having its own private art collection, the museum has the freedom to host more than 20 exhibitions each year. The art on display at any one time can vary from photography and sculpture to fashion and film, celebrating the art history canon alongside emerging artists. One of the Kunsthal’s most successful exhibitions to date is ‘The fashion world of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the sidewalk to the catwalk’ in 2013, which attracted unprecedented international interest.
Explore the Museum Park
The Kunsthal backs onto the Museum Park, a creatively landscaped outdoor space that connects Rotterdam’s major museums. The park provides a natural retreat from the busy city and forms a link between the Kunsthal, Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam (Rotterdam’s natural history museum), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, the Chabot Museum and Het Nieuwe Instituut, previously known as the Netherlands Architecture Institute. Just a short distance away, you can immerse yourself in precious artefacts from Rotterdam’s trading history at the Wereldmuseum.
The park itself – also designed in part by Koolhaas’ architectural organization OMA – is filled with sculptures and other forms of artistic inspiration, including a bridge built for aesthetic purposes that doesn’t cross over anything in particular.
The exhibition spaces at the Kunsthal are accessible by wheelchair. The Museum Park car park offers priority parking for the disabled, and a drop-off zone near the entrance of the Kunsthal is also available.
If the Kunsthal’s architecture and artwork leave you with an appetite, you’re in the right city. Explore Rotterdam’s culinary offerings and stop for lunch at a top-rated restaurant. Or brave the heights of the Euromast for dinner with a view.