Museum Shop: an elemental collage
The Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht recently renovated its reception space and Museum Shop. Maurice Mentjens developed a multifunctional retail layout for admission ticket sales, the shop, and the art lending library. The cash desk and the presentation units echo the elemental architecture of Aldo Rossi, the designer of the museum building: cubes, beams, and cylinders.
The zinc-covered domed tower is without doubt the most striking landmark in the district of Céramique in Maastricht. This free-standing cupola with belvédère forms the crown on top of the Bonnefantenmuseum. The rugged, E-shaped building dating from 1995 was designed by the Italian architect Aldo Rossi (1931-1997) – an architect, artist, and designer. He viewed the museum as a ‘viewing factory,’ or rather as a city, a reflection of our collective actions. This is most beautifully visualized in the famous Treppenstraße, the classic and monumental cascade of staircases through the central wing, leading to the exhibition halls.
The ground floor is reserved for the public spaces: the entrance hall, the Museum Shop together with the Bonnefanten Art Lending Library, the auditorium, the café and the tower room. The basis of Rossi's concept for this semi-public storey is a street with a tower at each end. Maurice Mentjens is an admirer of Rossi's ideas on architecture. ‘His work is simultaneously postmodern and accessible. This is thanks to his meticulous search for the cohesion between urban shapes and building typologies. All his designs are constructed with elemental contours, predominantly powerful geometric figures: cubes, beams, and cylinders. We have continued along the same architectural lines.’
The telescopic inner tower of the central entrance hall is echoed in the cash desk design. As Maurice Mentjens explains, ‘It's like a bandstand or a well on an adjacent city square.’ The circular form is split into three functional segments: admission ticket sales, shop, and the art lending library. These sections are separated by three openings to ensure short routes to the rest of the shop. The pedestal in the centre is crowned with a palm plant. This is a nod to the conceptual potted palm assemblage by Marcel Broodthaers which is part of the Basic Collection of the Bonnefantenmuseum. A comparable collage is grouped around the cash desk: three circular presentation disks (with diameters of 2 and 2.5 metres) plus a tall, white pillar on which posters can be displayed. The elongated wooden pyramid forms a counterbalance to these. It is a reinterpretation of the stone sculpture by Sol LeWitt that adorns one of the internal courtyards.
Mentjens is renowned for his refined detailing. All the white elements are crisply cut from Getacore composite (Getalit). The pyramid is clad in Keruing (wood), echoing the floors and grand staircase. By positioning the beams perpendicular to the direction of the parquet flooring, the shapes are set apart from the surface they stand on. The drawers at the bottom have a subtly sunken handle strip. Circular and rectangular plexiglass display cases have been designed for objects that could be more of a target for thieves; these have been set up on top of the presentation units.
Shelves and racks have been affixed along the walls; the card shelves also have plexiglass fronts. For the display of the art books, four ‘book beams’ have been devised with a base profile that acts as a support. The art lending library makes use of a modular storage unit with 150 vertical grooves for both smaller and larger frame sizes. Ledges make it possible to display works in view; the rest of the artworks are concealed in the sliding panels. The columns between the garden windows have been used for a full-length mirror and two displays of bags. Naturally, the pattern has been constructed from round Muuto The Dots, the dot on the i in this ‘hommage collage’.