Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Architect sues Museum

Hanna Daych, ‘Architect sues Leiden Museum on Copyright Charge’ NLTIMES.NL, 16 February 2015

Architect Fons Verheijen is planning legal action against the Naturalis Museum in Leiden, whose exhibition space building he designed. He argues that the museum is violating Dutch copyright laws by transforming the exhibition space into a storage facility and office space.

“They’re mutilating the building,” Verheijen told NL Times. “Somebody who creates art cannot have their work mutilated. Transforming my exhibition space into a storage space is mutilation.”

According to Verheijen, copyright law recognizes the relationship between creators and their products, and he feels that the Naturalis exhibition space is his creation. Invoking that aspect of Dutch copyright law, he plans to begin legal proceedings against the museum in April. His aim is to force the museum to scrap its current plans.

The Naturalis Museum’s move to integrate pieces from the Zoological Museum Amsterdam and the National Herbarium of the Netherlands into its collection created the need for additional storage and office space, both the museum and Verheijen agree. To accommodate those needs, the Naturalis plans to transform its current exhibition space, and then create a new exhibition space inside a newly-built building. Rotterdam architecture firm Neutelings-Riedijk won the bid to create the new space.

“My building is of a high architectural quality; it should not be used for storage,” Verheijen said. He insists that the existing exhibition space should be maintained and recommends the museum instead build an extension onto the current space for the office and storage requirements. “I’m not against another architect designing that,” he noted.

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