The Rijksmuseum is a must visit for anyone coming to Amsterdam. Quite simply one of the most fantastic cultural institutions in Amsterdam, but also The Netherlands, if not the world. Showcasing the history of The Netherlands through an incredible collection of permanent works of art, temporary special exhibitions, collectibles, design artefacts, furniture and even a plane (!). Not only does it house one of The Netherlands son’s most famous works of art: “The Nightwatch” by Rembrandt (which I may add, is displayed appropriately at the head of the Gallery of Honour) it also displays a vast collection of paintings from some of the best painters The Netherlands graced the world with.

A cathedral of Dutch art and history

Not only is the collection world class, but the building itself is also incredibly beautiful and has been lovingly restored and renovated over a 10 year period. The spectacular facade – giving it the impression of being a Cathedral to Art, evoking an almost religious experience (something that many Calvinistic Dutchies frowned upon in the not too distant past) is inspiring to say the least. See if you can spot the image of P.J.H. Cuypers, the architect of this institution, in the facade. The architecture is a combination of gothic and renaissance elements and considered to be “neo-gothic” in style. It is dazzling to a first time visitor, and yet I also am captivated by it, every time I cycle or stroll by. The world-famous Rijksmuseum is in good company on Museumplein. A stone’s throw away you will find the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum.

Dutch history in chronological order

The vast collection that the Rijksmuseum houses, is cleverly curated, chronologically, and also thematically. Bravely displayed, whereby many pieces are very accessible to the public – intentionally, so as to remove some of the elitism in art (a truly Calvinist characteristic) it also means that visitors can feel quite connected to both the art and the history of The Netherlands. Seeing some of the works of some of the great Dutch Masters, like Rembrandt, Vermeer, is almost overwhelming. The emotion in their brushstrokes almost tangible. The galleries (more than 200 of them) are well set out, and circulation of visitors is well considered, especially in the most popular areas. Some of the stairways, terrazzo floors and incredible murals that have been restored in the public spaces are mind-bogglingly beautiful. I’m afraid to say it, but the Rijksmuseum almost demands multiple visits to appreciate it.

Tips to enjoy your visit to the Rijksmuseum the most

If you do not have more than one day to visit, then I strongly recommend you do one of their excellent guided tours, covering specific periods or works. The Rijksmuseum of course offers audio tours, but you can also download their app to your smartphone and choose from a selection of guided tours yourself. The Rijksmuseum is one of the first museums to offer their entire collection digitally on their website, so try not to spend too much time snapping photos, but really take the time to appreciate the art of masters, at close proximity and enjoy the moment.

I strongly recommend you get there early in the morning, start by focusing on specific periods or pieces you want to see (the Gallery of Honour must not be missed and is often the first point of call for many visitors). If you are lucky to be in Amsterdam for a longer period of time, you might want to consider pacing yourself over multiple visits – a Museumkaart (you can find further information here) would be an excellent investment and allow you to visit multiple museums for a very reasonable price. During your visit you may like to take a break, and I strongly recommend the cafe that is in the main atrium above the bookshop. They do delicious Dutch dishes, inspired by the art and culture of The Netherlands – naturally with a focus on local ingredients.

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Unfortunately we do not have any information (yet) regarding how sustainably the Rijksmuseum is run.



Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam

Type: Art Historic