Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Rijksmuseum is the museum of the Netherlands. Its world-famous masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age include the Milkmaid by Vermeer and Rembrandt’s Night Watch. The Rijksmuseum itself is also a masterpiece. The collection is presented in a stunning building with amazing interior design. In 80 galleries 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. Every year, over 2.5 million visitors travel through the ages and experience a feeling of beauty and sense of time.

The Rijksmuseum (Dutch National Museum) is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.

The museum has on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of 1 million objects from the years 1200–2000, among which are some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. The museum also has a small Asian collection, which is on display in the Asian pavilion.

In 1795, the Batavian Republic was proclaimed. The Minister of Finance Isaac Gogel argued that a national museum, following the French example of The Louvre, would serve the national interest. On 19 November 1798, the government decided to found the museum.

On 31 May 1800, the National Art Gallery (Dutch: Nationale Kunst-Galerij), precursor of the Rijksmuseum, opened its doors in Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. The museum exhibited around 200 paintings and historic objects from the collections of the Dutch stadtholders.

In 1876 a new contest was held and this time Pierre Cuypers won. The design was a combination of gothic and renaissance elements. The construction began on 1 October 1876. On both the inside and the outside, the building was richly decorated with references to Dutch art history. Another contest was held for these decorations. The winners were B. van Hove and J.F. Vermeylen for the sculptures, G. Sturm for the tile tableaus and painting and W.F. Dixon for the stained glass. The museum was opened at its new location on 13 July 1885.

In 1890 a new building was added a short distance to the south-west of the Rijksmuseum. As the building was made out of fragments of demolished buildings, that together give an overview of the history of Dutch architecture, it has come to be known informally as the ‘fragment building’. It is also known as the ‘south wing’.

The building of the Rijksmuseum was designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885. It consists of two squares with an atrium in each centre. In the central axis is a tunnel with the entrances at ground level and the Gallery of Honour at the first floor. The building also contains a library. The fragment building, branded Philips wing, contains building fragments that show the history of architecture in the Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum is a rijksmonument (national heritage site) since 1970 and was listed in the Top 100 Dutch heritage sites in 1990. The Asian pavilion was designed by Cruz y Ortiz and opened in 2013.

According to Muriel Huisman, Project Architect for the Rijksmuseum’s renovation, “Cruz y Ortiz always like to look for a synergy between old and new, and we try not to explain things with our architecture.” With the Rijks, “there’s no cut between old and new; we’ve tried to merge it. We did this by looking for materials that were true to the original building, resulting in a kind of silent architecture.”

The collection of the Rijksmuseum consists of 1 million objects and is dedicated to arts, crafts, and history from the years 1200 to 2000. Around 8000 objects are currently on display in the museum.

The collection contains more than 2,000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age by notable painters such as Jacob van Ruisdael, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, Rembrandt, and Rembrandt’s pupils.

The museum also has a small Asian collection which is on display in the Asian pavilion.

It also displays the stern of HMS Royal Charles which was captured in the Raid on the Medway, and the Hartog plate.

In 2012 the museum took the unusual step of making some 125,000 high-resolution images available for download via its Rijksstudio webplatform, with plans to add another 40,000 images per year until the entire collection of one million works is available, according to Taco Dibbits, director of collections.

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