The Sonneveld House is a listed building that opened to the public as a museum in 2001 after a restoration that returned its exterior and interior to their original state. The house has had a long history and a number of occupants. Since the museum is intended primarily as a reconstruction providing an impression of how the Sonneveld family lived, the restoration was based on the completed state of the house in 1933. Alterations made during the Sonnevelds’ residence were treated as authentic; modifications made after they moved out were undone.
The role of the archive
The original state of the house can be determined almost entirely from archives in The New Institute’s collection, including that of Brinkman and Van der Vlugt. The architects’ archive made it possible not only to preserve the house but also to carefully reconstruct it, down to the colours, fabrics and furniture. The Sonneveld family's personal archive and W.H. Gispen’s business archive contain great quantities of useful information about everyday life in the house and how it was furnished.
The Sonneveld House Museum reveals the lifestyle of a prominent family of Rotterdammers who were converts to modernism, showing how they furnished their house and which objects they surrounded themselves with. The art and consumer goods that enrich the interior have been collected through gifts, purchases and loans. A designer-in-residence programme enables the creation of contemporary work in response to the house and its interior. The Rotterdam designer Richard Hutten was the first to 'inhabit' the house for six months from mid-November 2013.