The Rijksmuseum is the most important art museum in the Netherlands with thousands of old paintings in its collection including those of renowned Dutch masters Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Vermeer. The stunning neo-Gothic building located on Stadhouderskade was built in 1885 by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, who also designed Amsterdam's Central Station.
Following a decade-long €375m renovation, the new Rijksmuseum opened its doors in April 2013. Not only has the building's exterior been restored, but the interior has been brought much closer to the original design - with large galleries giving a cathedral-like venue to showcase the very best art from the Dutch Golden Age.
In pure numbers, the Rijksmuseum has 80 rooms displaying no less than 8,000 works of art and historical objects. The museum is split over 4 levels - level 0 (ground floor) houses special collections and period 1100-1600; level 1 features the 18th and 19th century; on level 2 you will find the important 17th century works; level 3 has objects from the 20th century.
The highlight of the museum is undoubtedly Rembrandt's The Night Watch (Nachtwacht), the iconic large portrait of the civic guard. It is now located on level 2 at the end of the Gallery of Honour (Eregalerij) - a long gallery with side alcoves filled with paintings of Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jan Steen. The Gallery of Honour is entered from the imposing Great Hall (Voorhal) which has large stained glass windows and intricate vaulted ceilings.
Tip: If you visit near closing time (just before 1700) you can enjoy the Nightwatch and Gallery of Honour without the crowds.
Another favourite painting in the museum is The Milk Maid (Het Melkmeisje) by Vermeer. Of Amsterdam interest is the Golden Bend of the Herengracht (De Gouden Bocht in de Herengracht) painted in 1671-72 by Gerrit Berckheyde which shows the merchant houses on the Herengracht canal.
Apart from the Dutch masters, the museum also includes Italian renaissance paintings, Dutch Delftware china, ship models, weapons, dolls' houses, furniture, silverware and a van Gogh self-portrait.
The Rijksmuseum pieces are superbly presented in minimalist style with blue-grey walls and special chandelier lighting from above. Some galleries have laminated sheets available (Dutch or English) with explanations about the main works of note.
Various 1 hour guided tours are available daily and cost €5 plus admission. These are "Rijksmuseum highlights" (the most frequent tour running 2-4x daily), "17th century" (daily 1400-1500) and "Rijksmuseum building" (daily 1230-1330). For more info see here.
Visitors can also take a multimedia tour (€5), available in Dutch, English, French, Italian, Spanish or German.
The museum's facilities have been improved significantly. A large glass-roofed atrium has been created from former internal courtyards which now houses the foyer area, museum café and shop. Free WiFi is available throughout. The passage way under the museum has been reopened for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Cuypers Library, the largest historical library in the Netherlands has been beautifully restored and visitors can see the 19th century reading room on level 1. The Asian Pavilion is a new glass building in the grounds surrounded by water and housing a collection of Asian art. At the Museumplein side there is a garden which is freely open to the public.
The Philips Wing section of the museum has also undergone a major renovation and re-opened to the public in 2014. This includes the new RIJKS restaurant with a focus on slow food and where possible, locally sourced organic ingredients.
The Rijksmuseum garden contains sculptures, fountains and seating - entry is free for the public.
The new Rijksmuseum is a must-see in Amsterdam and one of the great museums of Europe.
Rijksmuseum Essential Info
Opening Times: Daily 0900-1700, open all 365 days per year.
Admission Prices (2017): €17.50 for adults, FREE entry to children 0-18 / Museumkaart holders. Fast entry for those who have booked tickets online and holders of Museumkaart.
Getting There: Rijksmuseum is a 10 minute walk from Leidseplein. By public transport there are: trams 2 and 5 (stop Hobbemastraat, near the museum entrance); trams 7 and 10 (stop Spiegelgracht) and trams 3, 12, 16 and 24 (stop Museumplein). From Schiphol airport, bus 197 also stops at Hobbemastraat.
Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam
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