The MAS – Museum aan de Stroom – is a ground-breaking museum in the port of Antwerp that tells the story of the city and its connection to communities around the world. The MAS is home to three distinct collections: the Ethnographic Museum, the National Shipping Museum and the Folklore Museum. Antwerp’s town council organized an international architecture competition to design the MAS. The winning entry was the striking ‘Stapelhuis’ design by Neutelings Riedijk Architects. As part of the new building, archivists decided that the museum storage areas should feature visible storage, and approached Bruynzeel to install an appropriate system. Visible storage is a method of maximising public access to museum collections that would otherwise be hidden from public view.
With many museums and galleries holding up to 90 per cent of their collection in storage, this technique is becoming more common. In recent years, institutions ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum have adopted visible storage to display elements of their stored collections.
To create a visible storage archive for the Museum aan de Stroom, Bruynzeel installed a two-tier Double Decker mobile shelving system to make optimum use of the available space and define the restricted-access areas, reserved for staff. The collection is visible from the public space, but is protected from damage by wire and glass screens. The Bruynzeel double decker system allows the collection to remain safe and secure, while adding to the visitor experience.