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After a renovation of eight months, this summer the Biesbosch Museum opened again to the public. The existing museum building is completely transformed and expanded with a new wing that opens the building to the beautiful environment. The new wing accommodates the restaurant and a temporary exhibition space for contemporary art. The permanent exhibition on the historical development of the area has also been completely renewed. This autumn a large water model of the Biesbosch is realized as well as a freshwater tidal park on the museum island. Building, interior, water model and freshwater tidal park are designed by Studio Marco Vermeulen. The exhibition is designed by Studio Joyce Langezaal.

Reason for redevelopment

Watersafety is the immediate reason for the development of the Biesbosch Museum Island. As part of the national water safety program the 4450 hectare polder Noordwaard has been prepared (depoldered) for retention. On either side of the Biesbosch Museum outlet openings are dugcreating a new island.

For most visitors The Biesbosch Museum is the starting place for exploring the Biesbosch national park. The museum however, was outdated and not equipped to receive the growing amount of visitors. The lack of proper catering facility was most urgent, but also the presentation of the collection had to be renewed. In 2012 35.000 people visited the museum; in the first three months after the reopening the number of visitors counted already 30,000!


Museum Building

To avoid unnecessary wasting of material and energy, the structure of the hexagonal pavilions of the original Biesbosch Museum is maintained. On the southwest side the building a new wing of 1000m2 is added. The expansion of 1000 sqm comes with lots of glass and thereby opening the building to the part of the island that is activated as a museum garden. The expansion accommodates an organic restaurant with views of the adjacent water and landscape. The other part is used as a space for temporary exhibitions.


The existing building houses the permanent exhibition, a library, a multipurpose theater, the entrance area with a reception and the museum shop. Visitors can obtain tourist information about the Biesbosch National Park and buy tickets for the museum and electric boats. The addition of large dormers on the roof gave space to the offices of the museum, the Forestry Commission and the Park Board.


The old and new part of the museum are surrounded by earthworks and equipped with a grass- and herbs roof. In this way ecological value is added, creating a sculptural object that conforms as land art and at the same time manifests itself in the surrounding landscape. A crease in the roof gives way to an adventurous mountain trail and a lookout at the roof of the building.



The new permanent exhibition gives a rich impression of the history of the Biesbosch, the culture and the collection of the museum. In seven pavilions the unique story of the Biesbosch is displayed: from the Elizabeth Flood in 1421 to its current status as a recreation area. The residents, economy, crafts and nature are on display in multimedia spaces that stimulate all senses. Original film and photo material, interviews and tools provide a personal and vivid image of the area and its residents.



The new wing, but also the existing part, are designed in a way that energy consumption is minimized. The glass front is equipped with state-of-the-art heat resistant glass so that no blinds are needed. The earthworks on the northwest side and the green roof serve as additional insulation and heat buffer. On cold days, a biomass stove keeps the building at the right temperature through floor heating. On hot days it is through the same water tubing in the floor that cold is exchanged with the river.


Willow Filter

The sanitary waste water is purified through a willow filter: the first in the Netherlands and fitting well with the withy culture of the Biesbosch. Willows take on the waste water and the substances dissolved therein, such as nitrogen and phosphate. These substances act as nutrients and increase the growth of the willow. The remaining purified water is discharged into the adjacent wetland area and from there onto the river. Once the willows are cut off and dried, the wood can be used as fuel in the biomass stove in the museum or for other purposes.



The museum (re)uses in many respects what the area has to offer. This applies to energy supply and water treatment, but also for the menu of the microbrew restaurant. Also the museum can count on the commitment of dozens of volunteers, many of whom have worked in the Biesbosch in the past. Even most of the contractors and construction workers of the redevelopment come from the immediate area.


The Biesbosch has a rich history in harvesting and processing natural materials and is biobased ‘avant la lettre’. The museum therefore provides space to art, preferably from natural materials from the Biesbosch itself, in the new wing and on the island.


The impressive sturgeon and the salmon disappeared from the Biesbosch in the middle of last century. With the opening of the Haringvliet locks and river water becoming cleaner, the probability grows of the return of this distinctive species. The indoor pont at the restaurant already gives a foretaste of the return of the sturgeon.


Freshwater Tidal Park

The useum Island, which will be realized in the winter of 2015, is a freshwater tidal park, where a creek permits surrounding river water into the island. The tides and seasonal variations in water level can be well experienced as the banks of the creek have a gentle slope. This also creates a great diversity of flora and fauna and a visit to the island will therefor never be the same. A meandering path gives acces to the island that continuously changes shape under the influence of the different water levels.



Biesbosch Experience

On the Museum Island the Biesbosch Experience will be realized also in the winter of 2015. This scale model of the Biesbosch with polders, dikes and streams makes the water management function and importance of the area during high water clear. With a cycle of half an hour, the water changes from \\\"extremely low\\\" to \\\"extremely high\\\". By means of different kinds of locks children and adults are able to change the course of the water.


Open Air Museum De Pannekoek

The open air museum is on the other side of the river with a cultivated ‘griend’ and willows, where visitors step back into time. Also a decoy, a schrankkeet and a beaver lodge are to be seen.

photo: Ronald Tilleman

photo: Ronald Tilleman

photo: Ronald Tilleman

photo: Ronald Tilleman

photo: Ronald Tilleman

photo: Ronald Tilleman

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