Amsterdam Tourist Guide: Rijksmuseum
For art lovers and casual tourists alike, no trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the magnificent Rijksmuseum. Home to over a million works of art, valued in the billions, the exterior of the Dutch national museum is as impressive as the collection residing within.
The Rijksmuseum Building
Opened in 1885, the exquisite building near Vondelpark was purposefully designed to house the ever-expanding collection belonging to the national museum of the Netherlands. Featuring faux-Gothic towers, tiled murals, and a glinting gold façade that catches the sun, the Rijksmuseum is truly a feast for the eyes. Regardless of which side of the building you arrive on, a walk through the central driveway that runs under the museum is well worth your time. The cavernous passageway of arches and columns often attracts buskers of the highest quality, coming to take advantage of the stunning acoustics it offers.
Gallery of Honour
As the premier museum of the Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum displays some of the world’s most famous Dutch masterpieces. You will find the most outstanding of these Golden Age paintings in the Gallery of Honour. Here you can see Rembrandt’s Night Watch, Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, Jan Steen’s The Merry Family and Frans Hals’ The Merry Drinker. You may also enjoy the artistry in the interior of the gallery itself, with elegantly inscribed beams and vaulted ceilings ornately displaying the Dutch provinces’ coats of arms.
Discover a rich and vast collection of Asiatic art on display in the Rijksmuseum’s Asian Pavillion. This modern annexe to the main building holds a collection of Asian art spanning four-thousand years, including the famous 12th-century Shiva Nataraja (or Dancing Shiva). You will uncover a colourful and diverse collection from across Asia featuring ornate sculptures, textiles, jewels, and artefacts.
The Rijksmuseum Special Collections
Here you will find the most unusual objects from the Rijksmuseum’s collection on display. In this special gallery, you can explore hundreds of maritime-themed miniatures, an armoury of flintlock pistols and muskets, clothing, glassware, silverwork, games and musical instruments. This collection is one of the most interesting the Rijksmuseum has to offer.
Named for Rijksmuseum architect, PJH Cuypers, the Cuypers Library is a must-see for bookworms. The spectacular multi-levelled gallery will impress you with its book-lined walls and spiralling staircases, all under a vast glass ceiling. This historical library is the oldest and largest in the Netherlands and, apart from the free iPads available for use, you will feel like you are stepping back in time.
A 21st Century Rijksmuseum
Even the expanse of the Rijksmuseum building is not big enough to display the museum’s collection of over a million works of art. However, their website includes a gallery of over 130,000 pieces. You are actively encouraged to download guided multimedia tours from the website’s What’s On section. Also available for download is the Rijksmuseum’s free app. With open access Wi-Fi throughout the entire museum, you can use the app to enhance the experience with virtual guides and artwork information.