The Stedelijk Museum’s collection in a new light.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam opened on 16 December STEDELIJK BASE. AMO architects Rem Koolhaas and Federico Martelli developed a playful, lightweight exhibition concept specifically for this new collection presentation. Seven hundred highlights from the collection are now presented in a landscape of freestanding, ultra-thin steel walls created especially for this installation. This unique architectural feature was made possible through the innovative application of steel by Tata Steel Nederland.


STEDELIJK BASE is, according to its curators, a fresh, accessible way to discover art and design from 1880 to the present. Spotlighting masterpieces by artists such as Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, Charley Toorop, Gerrit Rietveld, Ed van der Elsken, Jeff Koons, and Marlene Dumas, the display invites visitors to embark on a journey through art history. The exhibition display for STEDELIJK BASE enables visitors to experience the collection in an open-ended parcours.

Architectural Elements

The perimeter walls offer a chronological overview of developments in art and design, while free-standing architectural elements create thematic zones of related artworks. The lay-out understands the collection as a network of relations rather than as a presentation of individual artworks. To capture these networks, very thin walls define an almost urban environment of free association and multiple relations.

Rem Koolhaas

“I’ve been visiting the Stedelijk Museum since I was twelve. The Stedelijk was my university and shaped my sense of aesthetics.”

he says. For STEDELIJK BASE, Koolhaas envisaged a landscape of slender architectural elements: ‘’We did not want to create a rigid circuit for visitors. They’ll have the freedom to explore in different directions, and choose their own route, as adventurous as circulation through any city.’’

The Presentation of Works

According to Margriet Schavemaker of the Stedelijk Museum, who was jointly responsible for the selection of works and the presentation: “STEDELIJK BASE is our way of making the collection relevant today, in the 21st century. The presentation is crammed with surprising connections and associations, and also offers a clear chronology. This way visitors will always know which period of art history they have entered.”

Hundred Eighty Tons of Steel

Tata Steel Nederland incorporated hundred eighty tons of steel in the exhibition walls for STEDELIJK BASE. As Chairman of the Board Theo Henrar claimed, “This truly is a world first and an amazing feat of Dutch engineering. An achievement realized through the innovative capacity, creativity, and flexibility of everyone involved. I’m extremely proud that Tata Steel Nederland was able to make such a significant contribution to this project.”

The structural mathematical models that were used by technical design firm Arup played a key role in achieving walls both strong enough and sufficiently slender for the design concept.