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 Museumplein was built in 1885 by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, who also designed Amsterdam’s Central Station.
Following a decade-long renovation, the Rijksmuseum in its current form was re-opened in 2013. This not only restored the building’s exterior but also brought the interior much closer to the original design – with large galleries giving a cathedral-like venue to showcase the very best Dutch art history.
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. This is under public renovation in a project called Operation Night Watch.
It is 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 can be entered from the imposing Great Hall (Voorhal) which has large stained glass windows and intricate vaulted ceilings.
Another popular 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, 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. Explanations are presented in Dutch and English.
A variety of private guided tours are available – for example, the ‘Best of the Rijksmuseum’ tour which lasts 1 hour costs €60 per group plus admission up to a maximum of 10 people.
Visitors can also download the Rijksmuseum app which can guide you through the museum and has some multimedia themed tours available in Dutch, Dutch Sign Language, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin Chinese.
Alternatively pick up the ‘floor plan & highlights’ leaflet at the reception desk.
The museum has a large glass-roofed atrium created from former internal courtyards which houses the foyer area, museum café and shop. Free WiFi is available throughout. There is a passage way running under the museum for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Cuypers Library is the largest historical library in the Netherlands and visitors can see the 19th century reading room on level 1.
The Asian Pavilion is a glass building in the grounds surrounded by water and houses a collection of Asian art. The Philips Wing section of the museum has more gallery space and includes the RIJKS restaurant with a focus on slow food and where possible, locally sourced organic ingredients.
The Rijksmuseum garden contains sculpture exhibitions, fountains and seating – entry is free for the public.
The Rijksmuseum is a must-see in Amsterdam and one of the great museums of Europe.
It is mandatory to pre-book a ticket and timeslot.
Rijksmuseum Essential Info
|Opening Times||Daily 0900-1700, open all 365 days per year.|
|Admission Prices (2022)||€20 for adults, FREE entry to children 0-18, Museumkaart or Iamsterdam City Card holders. You can pre-book your tickets online here|
|Getting There||Rijksmuseum is a 10 minute walk from Leidseplein. From Amsterdam Central, trams 2 and 12 stop at the Rijksmuseum; or take metro line 52 to Vijzelgracht station which is about 5-7 mins walk away; from Amsterdam Zuid, take tram 5; from Amsterdam Sloterdijk take tram 19 to Spiegelgracht stop; from Schiphol airport, bus 397 also stops at the Rijksmuseum.|
Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam
T: +31(0)20 662 1440, rijksmuseum.nl
Last updated 30 December 2021. This article was first published in 2010 and has been regularly updated.