Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Rijksmuseum

Fig. 1  Rijksmuseum, exterior
The next stop on my summer tour of museums around the world is the Rijksmuseum (fig. 1) in Amsterdam, Netherlands.   My timing was perfect as the museum has recently completed a 10 year, $500 million renovation project; the result is absolutely breathtaking!  Highlighted by architectural elements such as an impressive glass-covered atrium (fig. 2) and monumental spaces, the facility itself is a magnificent work of art.
Fig. 2  Rijksmuseum, atrium

Fig. 3  Night Watch, by Rembrandt van Rijn
The historic city of Amsterdam, known for its unique canal district, is a UNESCO world heritage site.  There are more than 50 museums in the city, ranging from quirky small museums to prestigious museums including Rijksmuseum.  Museumplein, or, Museum Quarter, is the cultural hub of the city and home of Amsterdam's three most significant museums: the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art and the Van Gogh Museum.

The National Art Gallery, which preceded the Rijksmuseum, was founded in 1800 in The Hague.  The museum moved to the city of Amsterdam in 1808 on the order of King Louis Bonaparte.  During that time frame, paintings such as the iconic Night Watch, by Rembrandt van Rijn (fig. 3), became part of the museum's permanent collection.  The current facility, originally a combination of Gothic and Renaissance elements, with references to Dutch art history, opened in 1885 (Rijksmuseum, 2013).  
Fig. 4  Milkmaid, by JohannesVermeer

To date, nearly 2 million people explore the museum and its grounds annually. Visitors are invited to "chronologically explore 800 years of Dutch art and history through 8,000 objects displayed in 80 galleries".  Dependent upon your area of interest and time allotment, the museum offers three different routes to choose from:  a one and a half hour Gallery of Honor tour which highlights seventeenth-century Dutch masterpieces such Vermeer's Milkmaid (fig. 4) and Rembrandt's Syndics, a half-day Dutch Golden Age tour and a tour geared toward families with children (Rijksmuseum, 2013).  Rembrandt's Night Watch remains a dramatic focal point in the Rijksmueum experience regardless of which route you select.  Additionally, Rijksmuseum goers can enjoy the museum's cafe, shop and sculpture gardens.

To learn more about the Rijksmuseum, visit the museum's website at

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