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 €375m renovation, the new Rijksmuseum opened its doors in 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, doll 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.
1 hour guided tours are available daily and cost €5 plus admission. These are “Rijksmuseum highlights” (the most frequent tour running 2-4x daily) and “Rembrandt” (daily 1500-1600). For more info see here.
Visitors can also download the Rijksmuseum app which can guide you through the museum and has some multimedia themed tours available in Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin Chinese.
The museum has a large glass-roofed atrium created from former internal courtyards which now 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, 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 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 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.
Note, the Rijksmuseum was closed between 13 March and 31 May 2020 due to coronavirus measures. Since reopening on 1 June it is mandatory to pre-book a ticket and timeslot in order to maintain social distancing. One-way walking routes are clearly marked in the museum.
Rijksmuseum Essential Info
|Opening Times||Daily 0900-1700, open all 365 days per year.|
|Admission Prices (2020)||€19 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, 12 and 24 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