Kunsthal Rotterdam by OMA

OMA's gallery design blamed for Rotterdam art heist

News: the architecture of OMA's Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam has been criticised following the theft of seven major paintings by artists including Picasso, Matisse and Monet.

The heist, which took place in the early hours of Tuesday 16 October, saw thieves break in through the doors of the gallery and escape with millions of pounds worth of paintings.

Security expert Ton Cremers has said that some of the fault lies with the architecture and that this is a recurring problem in Dutch museums. Speaking to Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, he said: "Once inside the building, thieves could easily walk through the entire museum. There were no extra compartments built for the expensive pieces."

Cremers explained that the glazed design typical of many modern galleries gives thieves a good view of the paintings from the outside. Despite calling the Kunsthal "a gem of a building" he told De Volkskrant how it is "an awful building to protect," as it is impossible to move artworks away from the exterior walls.

"Museums should focus more on the security of the buildings," said Cramer. "They are currently too focused on electronics such as cameras and motion detectors."

Completed in 1992, the Kunsthal was one of Rem Koolhaas' first major projects and was praised for providing flexible spaces that can accommodate various exhibitions within three halls and two galleries.

OMA are currently working on designs for a gallery with sliding walls and removable floors in a Moscow park. Find out more in our interview with Rem Koolhaas.

See more stories about OMA »