View from the Tornado of FENIX. Design by MAD Architects

The first museum in the world on the theme of migration through art.

FENIX will open in Rotterdam in the first half of 2025 – a new museum that is the first in the world to present, ground-breaking, contemporary art on the theme of migration. With a museum surface of 16,000 square meters, FENIX offers two monumental installations in addition to the changing international art collection: a suitcase maze and the photo exhibition Family of Migrants. Plein , a covered, lively city square for everyone, will be located on the ground floor. The eye-catcher and largest work of art is the Tornado, an architectural masterpiece by Ma Yansong of MAD Architects that swirls up from the building.

Director Anne Kremers: “Migration is about people and has always existed. FENIX is at home in the super-diverse city of Rotterdam, which is made up of more than 170 nationalities. Migration is a subject that affects everyone. The stories we tell about departure, arrival, hope, love and farewell make people curious about the world around them and how it has been shaped by migration.

Fenix shed

FENIX is located at the place of departure and arrival, on the Maas. Visitors will soon look out from the museum through the monumental windows over the former headquarters of the Holland-America Line and the river. From the end of the nineteenth century, more than three million people left these quays for destinations in the United States and Canada. FENIX is located in the original San Francisco warehouse from 1923, designed by architect CN van Goor and was the largest warehouse in the world at the time. The warehouse is located in Katendrecht, the Rotterdam district where countless new Rotterdammers arrived from China, Greece, Cape Verde and many other destinations.

The warehouse is carefully restored and transformed into a spectacular museum building. The Tornado forms the heart of FENIX: the futuristic, double-twisted staircase construction connects the different floors with the 24-meter-high platform. The theme of migration is also reflected here: on the way to the viewpoint, visitors can change stairs halfway and thus determine their way up, just as people are faced with choices during a journey. An experience where visitors are treated to new perspectives and a breathtaking panorama of the river and the city, the Maas and Rotterdam.

Growing collection

FENIX is the first museum worldwide that focuses on the theme of migration through the eyes of artists with a continuously growing collection. More than two hundred works of art have now been purchased by artists from all over the world, including Francis Alÿs, Rineke Dijkstra, Bill Viola, Grayson Perry, Shilpa Gupta and Kimsooja. FENIX also commissioned seven artists to create new work for the museum. Beya Gille Gacha, Efrat Zehavi, Cha Eun Rhee, Raquel van Haver and Hugo McCloud, among others, are currently working on exclusive assignments, each with their own perspective on migration. The collection also consists of a selection of historical objects that provide interpretation and context to the history of migration. Rotterdam is the starting point. The permanent art collection will soon be on display on a robust, uninterrupted daylight floor measuring 172 meters in length.

Monumental installations

On the ground floor, the permanent photo exhibition Family of Migrants will take visitors on a journey past hundreds of iconic photos. Themes such as family, departure and arrival, homesickness, or saying goodbye as captured by international photographers, past and present. Family of Migrants is inspired by Edward Steichen’s famous Family of Man – the largest photo exhibition of all time. Family of Migrants currently consists of approximately three hundred photos by more than two hundred photographers from more than sixty countries. Iconic images and rarely published material from archives and museums from around the world come together in this presentation. Stories from suitcase owners can be discovered in the monumental suitcase maze. FENIX received two thousand suitcases from all over the world during collection days organized throughout the Netherlands over the past two years.

Plein for and with Rotterdam

Plein also opens in FENIX; a new concept for museums in the Netherlands. Plein will be a publicly accessible space of over 2,000 square meters that functions as a covered city square for everyone. Program makers from the neighborhood and the world organize constantly changing activities. This makes Plein different every day: from a location for events to a stage and kitchen for the city and the neighborhood. Plein moves with the continuously changing city, nourished by its many cultures and people.