What exactly is this place?
Whether you are an Amsterdam regular or not, we can all agree that we have heard of this place… but how many of we pilgrims have actually been there? We had a quick hands-up around the office here at Lilly Likes and we found our attendance had been a little less than perfect. We tend to focus on the coffeeshops and the quirkier places and miss out on all the mainstream stuff. And the Rijksmuseum is mainstream, in so far as arts can be mainstream, anyway.
Put simply, this is a museum dedicated to art and the Netherlands history that sees a veritable plethora of visitors. Of the roughly 3 million people that attend Amsterdam of a year, they see two thirds. Seriously. That’s impressive by any standard. In 2018 they saw 2.3 of the average 3 million visitors plod through their doors. That’s some serious footfall in a country we usually associate with tulips and ‘other’ flowers.
So what is the main draw of the Rijksmuseum? Why do so many of us visit it every year when there are perfectly good coffee shops to enjoy? We had to know. Before we found out though, we made sure to remind everyone that we have a delightful range of articles just like this to accompany the many great Amsterdam experiences we have here at Lilly Likes Amsterdam. We’re just saying, don’t hate from outside of the club.
So onwards with the Rijksmuseum. What is it, where is it, when can you go and what can you see there? We went on a mission to record and report what we could.
What’s Inside The Rijksmuseum?
What sort of things can you expect to find inside this giant museum and art gallery? We don’t suppose old stuff and art is a good enough answer? No? OK then. You asked for it.
The Rijksmuseum has a permanent studio which they call the Rijkstudio. This place has a revolving range of exhibits for you to get your artistic chompers into. They study all types of art and history from Netherlands past. Typography is one of our favourites, since it involves the evolving world of pen and paper. There are currently (writing in July 2020) 680,002 works of art in the Rijkstudio, with 540,118 online exhibit threads for your perusal. That’s a lot of Dutch art.
Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn have permanent exhibits at the moment. Vincent Van Gogh is a staple, and his work is what makes this place have so many visitors. Some of this self-portraits are kept here under lock and key, ready for viewing by the discerning art student. Students make up a huge volume of their guests per year, as do organised groups from other educational facilities.
There are whole exhibits devoted to the masterpieces that are kept in the Rijksmuseum. A lot of people don’t know what a masterpiece is, at least outside of the creative world. When students/old world apprentices were set to graduate from their masters, they would create a masterpiece. This piece was deliberately written to impress the master, in order to gain their approval and have the apprentice qualify. Some artists would spend years working o no piece, never confident enough that it was finished, nor good enough to present… So when we say things are masterpieces, we really need to pay attention to the history behind the word. People use it like they use the word ‘literally’… wrongly.
And you can see true masterpieces at the Rijksmuseum. The paintings you have read about or heard about, but never thought you would ever see yourself, are housed there. Some of the Masterpieces housed at the Rijksmuseum include:
- Girl in Large Hat, Caesar Boetius van Everdingen, 1645-1650
- The Merry Family, Jan Havicksz Steen, in 1668
- Girl in a White Kimono, George Hendrick Breitner, in 1894
- The Merry Fiddler, by Gerard van Honthorst, in 1623
- Mary Magdalene, by Jan van Scorel around 1530
- The Battle of Waterloo, by Jan Willem Pieneman in 1824
- The Massacre of the Innocents, by Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, in 1590
They also have artistic sculptures or pieces from throughout history. Sculpted temple guardians from the 11th and 12th centuries, or military cabinets in ornate carved wood from the 16th century. Ewers, statues, and even vases decorate their halls. Don’t forget they have the online studios commonly used by common Dutch artists that are fully searchable. You can find the studios online, here.
What Else Is Included?
As well as this wonderful foray into art history and the online perusal of the Rijkstudios, you can visit their giftshop while you are visiting. It’s also available online so, if you visit, see something you like, then run out of money, you can always find the thing you wanted to buy online. The shop includes miniatures, prints and copies of the artworks… but it also has a lush jewellery selection which is perfect for those seeking out a nice gift for a significant other – particularly if they enjoy art. There is a kid’s section and a selection of art books that will help any budding art student further their studies.
Actually, if you are an art student and you are in Amsterdam for any purpose, the Rijksmuseum is a must-see sight. It has all the art history that you need to fill yourself up with and contains some of the most famous paintings in the world. As if that weren’t enough, they even have your gifts for those back at home sorted.
When is it Open and Where is it?
The Rijksmuseum is situated in central Amsterdam, on the aptly named Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam. They are open from 9 am to 6 pm most days and we would suggest you get there early with tickets that have been booked in advance. The reason? The crowds. With 2.3 million people visiting each year you don’t want to spend all day waiting in line. Besides anything else, you will need at least 2/3 hours to take in everything they have to offer. Take your time, arrive in the am, and browse to your heart’s content.
Or, ya know, head back to the LillyLikes homepages and see if you can’t find another activity that suits you better!