Amsterdam is home to some of the world's oldest and most fascinating museums. These museums attract millions of visitors every year and as a result, are havens of activities during the summer months. In this blog, we take a look at one of Amsterdam's most wonderful museums - The Rijksmuseum.
Formerly known as "Nationale Kunstgalerij" after opening its doors in 1800, the Rijksmuseum has come a long way from just an art gallery to a Dutch pride and home of history and art. Located in the Museum District of Amsterdam, this iconic museum boasts of an impressive collection that spans 800 years of Dutch history.
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is one of the most important museums in the Netherlands, has more than 200 rooms and is owned and maintained by the Dutch government.
A Brief History of The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum is one legacy that has been passed down to this generation from ancestors who saw the importance of letting us know all about the Netherlands and her past. From the 15th century to the late 18th century the united provinces of the Netherlands was ruled by chief magistrates called Stadtholders. These Stadtholders and their family members had a very large art collection. During the Batavian Revolution, the last stadholder William V of Oranje fled to England and the art collection in his possession came into the hands of the Batavian Republic. They were then transported to Paris in 1795.
The then French Minister of Finance wanted the art collection to be housed in a national museum but they already had a lot of those kind of museums in France and just like that, the idea for the Rijksmuseum came to be. On May 31, 1800, the museum opened, under the name Nationale kunstgalerij, translated to English as National Art Gallery. When it officially opened, the museum wasn't located in Amsterdam, but in the Royal Palace, The Hague. An Amsterdam local, Cornelis Sebille Roos was the first director of the museum and his first purchase was the painting "The Swan" by Jan Asselijn and is known to have cost 100 Dutch guilders.
In 1806 Louis Napoléon Bonaparte became the first king of the Kingdom of Holland. The name of the museum was changed to Royal Museum and in 1808 the Museum was moved to Amsterdam. The museum was then housed on the top floor of the Royal Palace at the Dam Square and also received a new director, Cornelis Apostool. After William I became king of the Netherlands, the name was changed to Rijks Museum. In 1854, the Dutch banker Adriaan van der Hoop donated his personal collection of artworks to the museum.
The Rijksmuseum's present home on the city's Museumplein (Museum Square) was designed by renowned Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers and construction began in 1876. Its doors were finally opened in 1885 and ever since, has held on to the reputation as the largest museum in the Netherlands. Following a 10-year period of extensive restoration and renovation, the Rijksmuseum reopened in April 2013. 2014 saw the museum expand yet further with the opening of a much redeveloped Philips Wing, ensuring that the Rijksmuseum is modern while retaining its identity as one of the 'oldest' museums in the world.
National treasures in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
As well as being a national treasure in its own right, the Rijksmuseum's internationally revered collection features some of the most famous national treasures in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. These include historic artworks by Vermeer, Frans Hals, and perhaps most notably Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’, which takes pride of place in a beautifully lit hall allowing visitors to enjoy every tiny detail.
Explore all sides of Dutch history
The collection of paintings in the Rijksmuseum sheds light on what Dutch painting was like from the 15th century to around 1900. The emphasis here is mainly on the 17th-century Dutch Masters. The museum also has quite a few works of some famous Italian masters. The various masterpieces are presented in the "Hall of Honour", a large hall in the the museum. It is at the end of this hall that the most famous work of the museum, Rembrandt's De Nachtwacht can be found in the Nachtwachtzaal.
There are various collections in the Rijksmuseum and they are divided into different departments. The paintings department deals with painting from the 15th century until 1900. Many paintings from this collection date from the 17th century and the collection of sculptures & crafts consists of sculptures, furniture, jewellery, glass artworks, vases, etc. There is also a collection of Asian Art. This showcases artworks from Indonesia, China, Japan and India.
As well as a dazzling permanent collection that can take days to fully enjoy, the Rijksmuseum frequently hosts some of the biggest exhibitions in Amsterdam. The museum regularly hosts guided tours, lectures and other special events.
Opening Hours and Prices
Adults: € 17.50
Youth aged 18 and under, Museumkaart holders, members of ICOM, ICOMOS, the Rembrandt Association (Vereniging Rembrandt), KOG, Vrienden van de Aziatische Kunst, Vrienden van het Rijksmuseum, BankGiro Lottery VIP-KAART: free admission
Holders of CJP, Stadspas or EYCA get a 50% reduction on
regular ticket price.
You don't need to go the counter if you have:
9:00 to 17:00 daily, all days of the year: so the museum is also open on Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year's day. The Rijksmuseum’s ticket desk closes at 16:30. The Rijksmuseum Gardens, Rijks Shop and Café are also open to visitors without a ticket from 9:00 to 18:00.
You can book your tickets on the: Rijksmuseum Official Website.
It can be very busy in the Rijksmuseum. Museumkaart and e-ticket holders do not have to go to the ticket counter. Nonetheless, you may have to queue outside the museum. These queues are for all visitors – except for the museum's benefactors (Vrienden van het Rijksmuseum) or people with reservations for a guided tour or workshop. The busiest times are Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 11:00 and 15:00, on bank holidays and during the holiday period.
Address and Accessibility:
1071 XX Amsterdam
Telephone: +31 (0) 20 6747 000
From Central Station: trams 2 and 16 (Rijksmuseum tram stop)
From Zuid Station: tram 5 (Rijksmuseum tram stop)
From Sloterdijk Station: tram 12 (Museumplein tram stop)
From Amstel Station: tram 12 (Museumplein tram stop), or metro to Weesperplein, then tram 7 or 10 (Spiegelgracht tram stop)
From the Marnixstraat regional bus station: tram 7 and 10 (Spiegelgracht tram stop), or bus 170, 172, 174 and 197 (Rijksmuseum bus stop)
From Schiphol Amsterdam Airport: bus 197 (Rijksmuseum bus stop)
For up-to-date public transport info, plan your journey on this website.
For more information on the Rijksmuseum, be sure to check out their official website.
For an advanced search of their collection, check out this link on their official website.