The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam should be visited at least once. In fact, maybe three or four times as it is the most famous museum in the Netherlands. The idea behind the museum is to relate the story of the Netherlands through art from the rich Middle Ages to the present.
At the Rijksmuseum, there are countless world-famous highlights from the Dutch Golden Age. There are more than 8,000 objects in 80 rooms, which tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history. These are the best tips and sights for your visit to the museum.
Many people quickly walk through the Front Hall to the larger halls. This is unfortunate, as I think the Front Hall is the most beautiful part of the Rijksmuseum. The mosaic floor in combination with the walls full of painted scenes are beautiful. The scenes are about the virtues of life. Do you know them all? The stained glass windows complete the picture as they also have a function. Each window has an art theme, such as painting, sculpture or architecture.
Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame shows a more than impressive collection of paintings by great masters. Think of Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Johannes Vermeer as well as Rembrandt. This shows the richness of the golden age in all its beauty. Few museums in the world have so many well-known works by masters in one room.
Take a good look around, as the names of famous seventeenth-century painters appear on the cast-iron beams surrounding the cabinets. Do you recognize them all? If you look closely you can see the arms of the eleven Dutch provinces above the cabinets, with their capitals as well. This room ends at the Night Watch Room.
The Night Watch
The Night Watch is the most famous painting by Rembrandt van Rijn. This beautiful painting cannot be ignored, as it is most striking in the Night Watch Room. This masterpiece can be seen upon entering the room. Unprecedented wealth can be seen in this room. Take your time and make your way slowly towards the Night Watch.
The age-old dollhouses in the Rijksmuseum are often in the shadows of all other works of art. The oldest dates back to 1676 and provides a glimpse into life in the Golden Age. Most dollhouses are still in remarkably good condition or have been restored.
The museum has a large Delft Blue pottery collection which is one of the largest collections on Earth. All kinds of utensils, complete tea sets and vases are on display.
The Cuypers Library is the largest and oldest art history library in the Netherlands. Unfortunately this library is not very well known. It has been restored to original condition during a recent restoration. The cast iron round staircase is particularly beautiful. You are allowed to browse around the library.
The Philips Wing
In the Philips Wing, exhibitions change every year. Usually with work from their own collection, but often also works of art that are on loan. There is also a room for displaying photography.
The Asian Pavilion is the odd one out. It has its own building in the courtyard of the museum. What is striking are the many sloping surfaces in the building and unusual sightlines characterise this building. It was designed by the architects Cruz and Ortiz.
The building is more modern than the rest of the Rijksmuseum. The Asian Pavilion has a rich collection of Asian art from China and Japan, as well as from Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. Some pieces of art date back to 2000 BC.
The Rijksmuseum gardens are a breath of fresh air in the city. These tightly landscaped gardens are a wonderful place to enjoy nature. In spring you can see many flowers blooming, including hundreds of tulips. Did you know that entry to the Rijksmuseum garden, the Rijksshop and the associated Café is free.
The Artists in the Rijksmuseum
Besides Rembrandt van Rijn there are many more Dutch Masters found in the Rijksmuseum. You can see works by Jacob van Ruisdael, Frans Hals, Vincent van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen. However art from lesser known artists are on display as well, artists such as Johannes Cornelisz. Verspronck, Jan Havicksz. Steen, Jan van Scorel, Caesar Boëtius van Everdingen and Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel.
History of the Rijksmuseum
This museum is now famous far beyond Dutch borders, however not everyone knows the wonderful history. The museum was founded in 1800, it was then located in The Hague. The name at the time was The National Art Gallery and its purpose was to show the art of Stadholders.
It was King Louis Bonaparte’s brother Napoleon, who moved the museum to Amsterdam. Only then did the famous works, including Rembrandt’s, Night Watch, come into the museum’s possession. The collection was housed on the top floor of the Paleis op de Dam. The Rijksmuseum has only been located in the current building since 1885. This building was designed by the Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers.
Visit the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is popular with day visitors. Foreign visitors make up two thirds of the museum’s patrons. You can easily buy your tickets online and at a discount. This saves you time from queuing at the counter and for faster entry on arrival.
Visit the museum from Your Couch at Home
The Rijksmuseum was one of the first museums to be mapped by Google. This allows you to visit the museum virtually, at your leisure from the couch. Of course the experience is something different, but it is cool.
View the Virtual Tour.
Multimedia Tours with the App
You can download the Rijksmuseum app in advance and choose a specific tour for your visit. Tours include that of the highlights, one specifically about Rembrandt or about the colonial past. The building in which the museum is located is very nice. Generally, you can do several tours during your visit.