The Rijksmuseum (literally, "national museum") features one of Europe's top collections of art and historical items and the world's largest group of Dutch Master paintings.
During renovation, the Philips Wing houses the museum's finest 17th-century works in "The Masterpieces" exhibition.
The abridged museum is still one of Amsterdam's top attractions, revealing the political and cultural impact of the Dutch Golden Age with paintings, artifacts and belongings of the era's wealthiest families.
Transportation and Parking:
Line 6, 7 or 10 to the Spiegelgracht stop (10-minute walk to the new entrance).
Line 3, 12, 16 or 24 to the Museumplein stop (10-minute walk across the park to entrance).
Tips to Avoid Crowds and Lines:
Shops and Restaurants:
Rijksmuseum posters, books, postcards and many other souvenirs are for sale in the official museum shops in the Rijksmuseum, on Museumplein and at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
Although there are no dining options within the Rijksmuseum, your admission ticket gets you a 15-percent discount at the Cobra Café, located on Museumplein. There are also various food vendors on Museumplein and plenty of restaurants in the Museum Quarter neighborhood.
A visit to the Renaissance and Baroque Gardens of the Rijksmuseum is one of many free things to do in Amsterdam. Pick up a free printed guide in the museum, which provides background on the impressive statues, fountains, ponds and five centuries of salvaged Dutch architectural pieces located throughout the gardens.
Baroque Garden is closed on weekends.
History of the Rijksmuseum:
The Rijksmuseum began as an idea for a national museum in the Netherlands, based on the French model. As such, the National Art Gallery opened in Den Haag in 1800 with 200 paintings. The growing collection later moved to Amsterdam's Royal Palace on Dam Square, then to a 17th-century mansion.
P.J.H. Cuypers, the country's most famous architect, designed the Neo-Gothic building we visit today, which opened in 1885. The space allowed for new departments: Dutch History and Sculpture and Applied Arts.
The New Rijksmuseum:
The renovation (2003 - present) will transform the once confusing labyrinth into a more inviting museum. Designs include a new atrium entrance; a new modern building for Asian art; and the removal of galleries added in the 1950s and '60s to expose light-filled courtyards from Cuypers' plans.
Learn more at the New Rijksmuseum Information Center, open Tuesday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. "Hardhat tours" (only in Dutch) are available for € 15.
Highlights of 'Rijksmuseum: The Masterpieces' by Room:
These are only some of the highlights. As there are more than 400 works on display, you'll want to allow at least 1.5 hours to see all of them (and that's fast). Viewing the rooms in order is recommended. Be sure to read the walls!
- Dutch Republic:
- Marvel at the intricate Model Ship, William Rex.
- World Power:
- VOC Base at Houghly in Bengal and others illustrate the far-reaching colonies of the Republic. The threads of the Nassau tunic are magnificent.
- Dolls' Houses:
- Especially in Dolls' House of Petronella Oortman, which belonged to an adult woman, admire the ceilings.
- Stay long enough to learn why the style featured in the room is called "auricular."
- Learn why Dutch potters changed their painting style; imagine A Flower Pyramid full of tulips.
- New Genres:
- Winter Landscape with Skaters gets more interesting and humorous the longer you stare. Learn how money changes art.
- Frans Hals:
- See the rougher strokes that characterized Hals in The Wedding Portrait, especially in the folds of the pants and dress.
- Rembrandt and His Pupils:
- Don't miss Rembrandt's Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, a stunning example of his ingenious use of lighting and shadow.
- The Later Rembrandt:
- One of Rembrandt's many self-portraits Self Portrait as St. Paul is here. Notice the texture in the turban.
- Johannes Vermeer:
- In The Kitchenmaid, a boring act makes for a mesmerizing painting, as Vermeer made the milk "move" with light. The Little Street could be a photograph.
- Jan Steen:
- During the ongoing renovations, Steen paintings may be replaced by rotating exhibitions.
- The Night Watch:
- Regarded as the museum's showcase piece, view Rembrandt's unorthodox portrait of the Civil Guard from a distance. Then follow the detailed guides to find the techniques that make it a masterpiece.
- Ceremonial Plate:
- A shiny collection of objects for festive occasions.
- See what the museum purchases to expand its collection.