It took them a few years to renovate one of the most important landmark buildings in the Netherlands. For more than 9 years the Rijksmuseum was closed. My son was not even born yet when they started what was soon to become the most extensive renovation of a museum ever.
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is a world famous museum and home to the masterpiece of painter Rembrandt van Rijn: The Nightwatch (De Nachtwacht). The museum offers an impressive collection of some of the most beautiful paintings in the world. It’s not only (historical) paintings though, there is an interesting section with more contemporary art as well!
Let me show you why a visit to this museum is a must when visiting the Netherlands. One thing really impressed me: you can get very close to these valuable and priceless works of art. Up close and personal with the Dutch Masters!
The building is truly historical and was opened in 1885. For the Dutch it has a very characteristic design, some say it looks a bit like a fairytale castle. The interior is just fabulous, with its 80 rooms carrying 8,000 objects of art on display. Before the renovation the Rijksmuseum welcomed 1 million visitors annually. I am sure this will easily increase to 1,5 – 2 million now that is has been renovated….
Old library in the Rijksmuseum
Gallery of honor
This is the heart of the museum: the Gallery of Honor. The Gallery is a corridor with alcoves on the side showing great masterpieces of the 17th century. The corridor draws the visitors towards a special place at the end. Here is the museums most famous piece on display.
This painting has the best spot in the building and is beautifully lighted. I don’t know if you all recognize it, but it’s huge, impressive and a true Master: it’s The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn.
You can get very close to the Night Watch!
Another masterpiece is the MilkMaid by Vermeer. It is actually quite a small painting and it’s funny to see that many people swarming the place like bees, trying to make a picture.
Way of presenting the paintings
Can you imagine when someone first came up with the idea to paint all the walls dark grey? But look how beautiful the paintings show against a grey wall. They couldn’t have picked a better colour.
To encourage people to discover and understand a painting you will find explanation sheets next to every master piece. These sheets highlight important parts of the painting: things you would have missed, explanations of certain elements or showing you where the painting was damaged in the past (the Night Watch for example was badly damaged on 14 September 1975….. by a lunatic with a knife).
This way of explaining the paintings makes the museum very suitable to visit with kids. Don’t expect to see everything, there is just too much for a single visit (especially with kids). Make sure to pick the pieces you really want to see and plan your route through the building.
Triangle of Art
The Rijksmuseum is situated on the Museumplein (square). A great place to sit down (or lie down on the grass if you like…..maybe smoke some), watch people and relax. If you haven’t gotten enough art impressions there is more, right on that same Museumplein…..
The Museumplein is actually a triangle of art. Next to the Rijks (as the people in Holland call it) you can also find the national Van Gogh museum and the Stedelijk Museum of modern art. All within walking distance.
The Stedelijk Museum, also known as the ‘Bath Tub’
How to get to the Rijksmuseum
There are several ways of getting around in Amsterdam. The best way to experience the city is to take the electric tram. You can buy single tickets in the tram but also passes for one or more days. Mind you that buying single tickets in the tram is expensive. All public transport in Amsterdam (and other major cities in the Netherlands) is paid via an electronic chip card (the OV chip card). Make sure to have someone inform you about the best possibility for your stay.
Another important piece of advice: buy your tickets in advance! We have seen waiting lines of more than one hour. You can skip these when you carry your pre-bought tickets. You can easily buy them online via the Rijksmuseum website.
Another masterpiece by Verspronck: “Portrait of a girl in blue”
This is part of a series in 2013 about the Netherlands. A series covering museums, city trips, activities and just your overall interesting facts about the country. Visit the Netherlands! Come back and search with the tag ‘Netherlands’.
Cannot wait and want to read more about things to do in the Netherlands? Click here for my 5 favorite places!