The Natural History Museum is situated in the Museum Park in Rotterdam, next to the Kunsthal designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). The museum occupies an historic villa dating from 1852 with the new extension housing exhibition spaces, a library and offices. The extension is designed to contrast with the villa and is comprised of a series of layers. A concrete volume housing the new exhibition hall is set within a steel frame structure wrapped in glass. A narrow opening at ground level in the exhibition wall allows daylight to enter and offers views to the park through the glass veil. The new exhibition box is set back on the east side, making room for a spectacular whale skeleton to hang within the glass and steel outer skin.
The new and the old buildings are linked by inserting a layer of glass behind the existing entrance and extending it to form a transparent link between the two structures. This link is one of four glass bridges that allow a continuous route through the entire museum. With its simplicity and orthogonal geometry, the rejuvenated Natural History Museum successfully unites old and new.