On Tuesday, October 16, the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam was robbed; thieves made off with seven priceless paintings by world-renowned artists like Picasso, Matisse and Monet. With millions of dollars in irreplaceable art missing, security experts are pointing the finger at the gallery’s avant-garde architecture for enabling the theft.
The Kunsthal gallery, which was designed by legendary architect Rem Koolhaas, featured an open concept, with priceless works easily accessible to the public. In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, security expert Ton Cremers said; “Once inside the building, thieves could easily walk through the entire museum. There were no extra compartments built for the expensive pieces.” Elsewhere, museums like The Louvre in Paris isolate priceless pieces like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to ensure heightened protection. In a further recrimination, Cremers criticized the Kunsthal’s glazed design for giving the thieves a clear view of the museum’s interior layout from the outside.
There is speculation the thieves hid inside the museum after closing time, exploiting the building’s design to avoid detection. In a recent article on the theft, the New York Times referred to a report which appeared in the Dutch newspaper The Algemeen Dagblad three months prior to the theft, wherein one of the museum’s visitors complained of having been accidentally trapped inside the museum after closing time.