The great day has finally come: the first parts of the Stedelijk’s collections are at last being moved into their new home. The library is the first to go: on the afternoon of Monday 16 January, the first books were transferred to the depots in Paulus Potterstraat. Over a period of six weeks, 3000 shelf metres of material will be relocated – almost 200,000 books and 350 metres of archive material.
The move follows extensive preparation. The new depots – in cellars under the newly renovated 19th-century museum building – have lower ceilings than those in Deccaweg. Over the past year, staff have worked hard to give thousands of books new location codes. Tens of thousands of volumes have been moved from over-sized storage boxes into ones that are a better fit. The purpose of this is to make better use of limited space and allow for an annual growth rate of over 3300 volumes (over 40 metres of shelf space).
Boring statistics but a thrilling collection
Every one of the past century’s trends in the fine and decorative arts and in photography is reflected in the exhibition catalogues, books and journals that the museum has been collecting ever since the 1930s. There are thousands of catalogues from the Stedelijk Museum itself, but also ones from more than 400 museums worldwide. 1500 journal titles, 250 of them current, constitute one of the greatest collections of modern art journals anywhere in the world. The moving image is also well-represented, with over 2500 videos and DVDs collected since 1980.
In 2003, all of these collections were transferred from the old building on the Museumplein to Deccaweg in Westpoort. The library continued to attract a faithful public, but will now be ready to welcome a surge of new visitors when the museum reopens this autumn. A lounge reading room on the ground floor will accommodate those who just want to look something up quickly, while the study area on the floor below offers thirty places for those wishing to conduct in-depth research. Enthusiastic, well-trained staff will be available in both places to assist. This section of the new library is what we call the ‘learning zone’, a term that also embraces its educational work, lecture program and guided tours.
“All of us – both public and staff – are looking forward eagerly to the day when the museum is completely open again. This is just the first small step”, says Michiel Nijhoff, head of the library. “Moving a few books into a cellar is a humble prelude to what we expect to be an extraordinary year.”