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Busy day at Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam: Up close and personal with the Masters

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Up close and personal Rijksmuseum masters

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. And now, the Rijksmuseum is stunningly beautiful and a great place also to visit with kids!

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!

Close to Mondriaan

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!

Historical building Rijksmuseum

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….

Interior of Rijksmuseum

Library Rijksmuseum

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.

Inside the Rijksmuseum

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.


Night Watch close by

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.

Vermeer Milk Maid

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.

paintings in Rijksmuseum

Visit Rijkmuseum with kids

Busy day at Rijksmuseum

Clear explanation

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).

Family trip to Amsterdam Rijksmuseum

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.

Stedelijk museum

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.

Verspronck portrait of a girl in blue

Another masterpiece by Verspronck: “Portrait of a girl in blue”

Cannot wait and want to read more about things to do in the Netherlands? Click here for my 5 favorite places to visit in the Netherlands!

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Nomad and Villager September 10, 2013 - 23:12

I really enjoyed my visit their in the week of the re-opening. It is a beautiful museum indeed.

Emiel van den Boomen September 11, 2013 - 21:17

That must have been an exciting week, so close after the re-opening!

Jenna Francisco September 10, 2013 - 22:21

I love how you showed people interacting with the art. When I was in Amsterdam, this museum was closed. Definitely a reason to go back!

Emiel van den Boomen September 11, 2013 - 21:16

Did I not read somewhere about plans to visit Europe and Amsterdam again…:) When you do come back we should visit together!

Jenna Francisco September 11, 2013 - 21:21

Yes, you did 🙂 But now we’re leaning toward Berlin instead of Amsterdam only because we’ve never been there. But we will make it to Amsterdam soon because I think my kids would love it. It’s a unique city for sure.


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