Following a European tender process, Spanish architects Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos of Seville were chosen by a committee chaired by the chief government architect Jo Coenen to lead the transformation of the Rijksmuseum. Cruz y Ortiz proposed minimal alterations to the building itself. The firm has recreated the clear layout conceived by the museum’s original architect, Pierre Cuypers, stripping the building of its later additions to ensure that it is once again a coherent whole. The result transforms the 19th century building into a bright and spacious 21st century museum. The new Rijksmuseum features an impressive new entrance area; a new Asian Pavilion; a new outdoor exhibition space and garden; state-of-the-art facilities including new dining spaces, a shop, a restored library and auditorium; renewed education facilities, a new service entrance, a separate building for the conservation of the collection; and climate-control and security features, which are in line with today’s requirements. Also restored to their former glory are the high-ceilinged, spacious, late 19th century galleries. In keeping with the plan to restore the building where possible, the original monumental ornaments that decorated the walls and ceilings will be returned to the Gallery of Honour, the Grand Hall, the Night Watch Gallery and the stairwells. Cuypers‘ hallmark is best preserved in the library where the original design and ornaments have largely been maintained. The French interior architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, whose work for the Louvre has earned him international acclaim, was invited to devise the interior design for the transformed Rijksmuseum. He has created all display elements for the galleries that complement the restored 19th century museum, including the display cases, plinths, lighting and furniture. In consultation with Cruz y Ortiz, Wilmotte has also determined the interior colour scheme, which has been inspired by Pierre Cuypers’ palette for the building.
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