Museum de Fundatie is an art museum located in Zwolle, the Netherlands. It attracts attention not only with its extensive collection but also with its interesting architecture. The museum is located on the outskirts of the medieval city centre and a large parkland with 19th-century canals. Originally, the building was constructed as the Palace of Justice by the architect Eduard Louis de Coninck. After that, the structure underwent re-functioning and restoration to take on its current appearance. Bierman Henket Architecten designed a flat ball-like annexe for the Fundatie Museum, which was built in 1838 and had a neo-classical look.

Timeline of Restoration: Museum de Fundatie - Sheet1
Museum de Fundatie_©Joep Jacobs

The building gained its unique identity with this additional structure on its roof. For the additional structure, the architects proposed an extension on top of the existing structure due to the limited space surrounding the museum and the technical difficulty of extending beneath. And now, it is only possible to mention this radical restoration decision when discussing the Museum de Fundatie.

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Museum de Fundatie_©Joep Jacobs

It is best to start at the beginning and comprehend the structure to assess the restoration timeline of the building. Between 1838 and 1841, Eduard Louis De Coninck, an architect, designed the structure as a courthouse. He planned for this architectural design to symbolise the new kingdom’s unified judicial system. The structure features a grand entrance with a central entrance hall that spans two levels, providing a double symmetry. Due to its location, the structure served as a bridge between two contrasting worlds: one was a 19th-century park with an outward-oriented, dynamic character, and the other was an inward-oriented, medieval, fortified city with a compact and stable character.

After that, the courthouse underwent a complete restoration by architect Arne Mastenbroek in the 1980s to become the new place for the information department of the National Planning Service. Gunnar Daan, an architect, transformed the old courthouse into a museum in 2004. BiermanHenket Architects created the new extension in 2010. The architect insisted against adding on to the side of the existing structure because doing so would have compromised the building’s isolation and symmetry. The complexity of an underground extension was too big. As a result, the addition was planned as a freestanding volume on top of the main structure.

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Museum de Fundatie_©Joep Jacobs

The new extension is symmetrical in two directions, like the lower part. Still, unlike the lower section, it has a shape resembling a rugby ball, according to the architects who explained the extension. Together, the two utterly dissimilar volumes create a brand-new urban entity. A similar contrast can be seen in the interior, which contrasts the traditional layout of rectangular galleries below with the elliptical space above flowing open areas. The structure has eight steel columns, each with its foundations. The new addition, which has a total of 1000 m2 in gallery floors, is supported by columns. This indicates that the addition is independent of the old Palace in terms of both structure and architecture.

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Museum de Fundatie_©Joep Jacobs

Fifty-five thousand three-dimensional ceramic tiles produced by Makkum-based ceramics experts Koninklijke Tichelaar were used to clad the addition. Together, the mixed-white-blue glazed 20×20 cm and 10×10 cm tiles create a subtle surface that blends into the sky depending on the weather. A façade has been built on the north side of the building, letting light into the two additional museum levels and giving visitors to the museum a wide-angle perspective of the city.

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Museum de Fundatie_©Joep Jacobs

The atrium that serves as the extension’s continuation of the original central entrance lobby connects the two museum spaces. Visitors can access the various floors using a glass elevator in the atrium. The staircases are on the perimeter of the several floors, distant from the centre. They are majestic and straight in the older construction while flowing and curled in the current construction. A glass tunnel connects the existing structure and the addition at the intersection of the new and the old. The atrium can be seen on one side, while the city and the tiled extension’s bottom can be seen on the opposite side. Thus, Museum de Fundatie has acquired a fresh and wholly distinctive appearance. Its goal is to present modern, current, and older art in a single structure.

Museum de Fundatie_©Joep Jacobs

According to the museum’s website, the renovated Museum de Fundatie, where the 19th-century avenues and the medieval city centre intersect, is both a beacon for the present and a symbol of the future. Additionally, the new building satisfies the need for additional space for the famous sandwich of crowd-pullers and special exhibitions. Astonishing pieces by Rembrandt, Saenredam, Turner, Monet, Rodin, Van Gogh, Mondrian, and Van der Leck are among the museum’s exceptional collections. Various pieces from the Museum’s collection of visual art, from the late Middle Ages to the present, are housed on the ground level. 

It is a fact that the Museum de Fundatie should be seen not only as an art museum with its wide collection but also architecturally with the rich history of the building, the restorations it has undergone, and especially the latest annexe building at the top. 

Reference List | Museum de Fundatie

  1. BiermanHenket (n.d.). Museum de Fundatie Zwolle. [online] BiermanHenket. Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2023].
  2. (n.d.). Museum de Fundatie – Museum de Fundatie. [online] Available at:
  3. Arquitecturas Cerámicas. (n.d.). Museum De Fundatie – Bierman Henket. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2023].

İnci is an architect who is passionate about interdisciplinary discussion in the field of architecture.In her point of view architecture is not only about aesthetics and art but is an understanding and constant thinking of creating space for living thing.She loves to research,read,learn and write about different perspectives of architecture.