Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Rijskmuseum is national museum presenting Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages to the present day. Its rich collection consists of about one million artworks and historical objects, of which only eight thousand are being put to display. At four floors of an amazing old building visitors can admire not only some of the masterpieces by Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Van Gogh et others, but also interesting objects presenting Dutch heritage and history. As such, it could be said, Rijksmuseum is a Dutch equivalent of English British Museum, French Louvre and Swiss Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum is located at the Museumplain (eng. Museum Square) a square at the southern part of Amsterdam where some other major Amsterdam museums can be found (Van Gogh Museum & Stedelijk Museum). Because Rijksmuseum is one of the most famous museums in Amsterdam and it resides inside remarkable old building, it is not hard to find.

Museumplein is a large green space where many Amsterdam museum are located.

After paying the fee of 17,50 EUR visitors are allowed to enter Rijksmuseum building and explore museum’s collections. I wished to see as much as possible and it took me few hours to stroll through all four floors. My time was well spent. I enjoyed learning more about Dutch history and heritage, admiring architecture of beautiful old building and last, but not least, seeing some of the world’s best artworks.

Entrance ticket and museum plan

The history of Rijksmuseum is going back to 1800, when it was founded in Hague. Eight years later, in 1808 it moved to Amsterdam where it was first located in the Royal Palace and later in the Trippenhuis. In 1885 it moved to the building where it is today. Since then, Rijksmuseum went through some renovations. The latest one was completed in 2013, when museum opened its gates again after a ten-years of renovation.

Rijskmuseum building was designed by the architect Pierre Cuyper.

The collection narrates different episodes from Dutch history very well. Visitors can learn about Dutch domestic life through through different everyday objects people used to have in their homes, for instance interior decorations and furniture, doll houses etc.

Dolls houses were created during late 17th and early 18th century as a display models for wealthy Dutch ladies. Nowadays are a valuable source of information about the furnishing and use of Dutch houses in this period.

Dutch colonial past is presented through different objects from their colonies, weapons, letters, paintings, scale models, etc.

Display of Dutch colonial past

The objects are nicely displayed in a traditional way. As bland as this type of display might be for some visitors, I believe it is suitable for the traditional museum as is Rijksmuseum. Informative panels, leaflets and in some galleries even iPads are providing visitors with all the information needed to learn about the exhibited objects in different languages.

Objects at Rijksmuseum are exhibited in traditional way

Rijksmuseum’s most famous objects are Dutch Old Masters’ paintings. The most famous of them and to me, also the most remarkable, is Rembrandt van Rjin’s Night Watch. I was impressed by its colossal size, and the way how Rembrandt portrayed the different people using lights and shadows. It is indeed a masterpiece.

The central object of Rijksmuseum – The Night Watch

Unfortunately, as it is common with the most famous works of art, the room where the Night Watch is exhibited, was overcrowded at the time of my visit. It seemed to me, everyone who was at Rijksmuseum at that time, wanted to see it. It was almost as crowded as Mona Lisa in Louvre. Luckily, the Night Watch is much larger than Mona Lisa and can be observed from the distance.

Rembrandt’s painting The Night Watch

While waited for two tour-guided groups to move away from the Night Watch, I observed it from the distance. I found the information leaflets provided by the museum and took a look at one. While reading it while looking at the painting, I learned more about techniques Rembrandt used, the people he portrayed and other interesting facts about the painting. Though it wasn’t the most exciting education tool, it was very informative. I’ve learned a lot.

The Night Watch explained

Despite the paintings by the Old Dutch Masters were amazing, they were not my favourite part of the museum. The galleries where they are exhibited were far too crowded for one to fully enjoy their beauty. I was much more impressed by the collections of ship models and weapons located at the ground floor of the museum.

Display of the ship models

To sum up, my visit of Rijksmuseum was a great experience. As I expected, it is a good museum presenting Dutch history through rich collection of objects in a traditional way that hasn’t changed much through years. It might not be the museum where you would spend hours with your children – they would probably get bored very soon, but it is a museum where you would go to admire the beautiful objects and artworks from Dutch history. As such, it definitely met my expectations.

Vermeer’s Milkmaid

Rijksmuseum also met my expectations in terms of crowds wanting to see the most popular exhibits. As I expected, the Old Dutch Masters’s gallery was the most crowded part of the museum. But, people there were very polite. By the most popular paintings, as for instance the Milkmaid, almost everyone, took a look at the painting and moved, allowing other to take a look too. With little patience, you were still able to see all the paintings. Also, I didn’t feel disappointed by the Night Watch. To me, it is a masterpiece worth being a central object of the museum.

Rijksmuseum’s library is a stunning place

Practical Information: 

  • Admission Fee:
    – Adults: € 17.5
    – Youth aged 18 and under, Museumkaart holders, members of ICOM, ICOMOS, UNESCO, the Rembrandt Association (Vereniging Rembrandt), KOG, Vrienden van de Aziatische Kunst and Vrienden van het Rijksmuseum: free admission
  • Opening times: from 9:00 to 17:00, all days of the year
  • The Rijksmuseum is accessible to visitors with mobility impairments.

1,002 thoughts on “Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

  1. johnliddlephotography says:

    Hi Urska,
    Sounds like a must-see if visiting Amsterdam. I’ve seen travelling exhibitions of Dutch Masters’ works and can only imagine how impressive this Museum would be. The library is also very impressive. Thanks for sharing.
    John

    • Urska says:

      Hi John! Thanks for your comment. I loved Rijksmuseum, but I wouldn’t say, it’s a must see for everyone. Depends on person’s interests. For those who get easily bored in such type of traditional museums and are not too interested in Dutch history and art, I would rather suggest to skip it. But I think those who enjoy just admiring exhibits and are interested in Old Dutch Masters, would probably love Rijksmuseum as much as I did. 🙂

  2. Catherine Sherman says:

    Great photos and commentary! I visited this museum many years again after traveling all night on a ferry and train, so I barely remember it, because I was so tired. Your post reminds me of why I need to return! Thanks!

    • Urska says:

      Thank you Jo! “Work of art” is a excellent description of Rijksmuseum. The way exhibitions are implemented in space and how do they compliment the historical architecture and vice versa is great. 🙂 I think they did a good job with renovation. 🙂

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