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Treasure chest of Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum

It is home to ‘The Nightwatch’ and ‘The Milkmaid’ but also houses an impressive library and the brand-new Michelin-star restaurant RIJKS. Step into the world of the Rijksmuseum, the treasure chest of Amsterdam.

Discover the museum

Discover the museum

It’s hard not to notice the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein (Museum Square), which opened in 1885. The museum collection is as impressive as the building itself. Here you will find masterpieces by the Dutch Masters of the Golden Age. The absolute highlight of the museum is, of course, ‘The Nightwatch’ by Rembrandt van Rijn. You could easily spend days exploring the Rijksmuseum and discover something new each time. The building, designed by architect P.J.H. Cuypers, houses thousands of historic objects that together portray the history of the Netherlands. Each of the rooms has an exhibition representing a different century. Unique to the museum is that paintings from a particular century are exhibited together with other forms of art from that same period to provide an excellent overview of the era. The museum devotes particular attention to the Golden Age, most prominently in the Gallery of Honour.

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Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Staf / Getty Images
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Carolyn Eaton / Contributor / Getty Images
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    Masterpieces

    The Rijksmuseum collection includes numerous masterpieces from the Golden Age, including ‘The Jewish Bride’ and various self-portraits, such as the ‘Self-Portrait as the Apostle Paul’. The highlight of a visit to the Rijksmuseum is, of course, ‘The Nightwatch’ from 1642, the finale of the Gallery of Honour. What makes this painting particularly unique is that Rembrandt portrays the figures in the group portrait in action, something never before done. It is also the largest and most famous of his works of art.

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Staf / Getty Images

    Rembrandt van Rijn was one of the great Dutch Masters. He was born in Leiden but moved to Amsterdam in 1631, where he painted many of his famous works. Rembrandt is praised for his playful use of light and dark, which produces a dramatic effect in his works. When viewing a Rembrandt painting, you feel like a part of the lively scene depicted in front of you.

    ‘The Milkmaid’ in the spotlight

    The work of Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch Master from the 17th century, is also widely represented at the Rijksmuseum. Vermeer was a true master in illuminating the subjects in his paintings. The number of fabrics on which the light falls through the window on the left is astounding, and ‘The Milkmaid’ is undoubtedly the most famous example of this effect. In addition to this masterpiece, the Rijksmuseum has three other paintings by Vermeer in its collection, including the famous ‘View of Houses in Delft’, also known as ‘The little Street’.

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    Johannes Vermeer is one of the best known Dutch painters from the Golden Age. Today the painter is world-famous, but in the 17th century - and the centuries that followed - his work was of little significance. In the 19th century, he was even referred to as the Sphinx of Delft because his life history was so mysterious. Vermeer often painted intimate scenes in which time appears to stand still.

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      Surprisingly varied

      Although the Dutch Masters are the primary reason to visit the Rijksmuseum, there is much more to see in this gigantic museum. For example, the Asian Pavilion houses a rich collection of Asian art, and in the new 20th century room, you can admire more recent art from around the world. Also worth a visit are the Special Collections, a group of surprising objects from the museum collection that includes jewels, costumes, model ships and magic lanterns.

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      Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Staf / Getty Images

      Historic library

      What many people do not know is that the Rijksmuseum also has an historic library. The Cuypers Library was opened to museum visitors following the restoration of the museum. The collection is huge and extremely complete in terms of European art history. Thanks to its major 19th century (and older) Dutch arts and crafts objects, drawings and prints, the library is held in high regard internationally. In the library there is a reading room and study room where visitors are welcome to read the books and journals as these are not lent out.

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        A haven of peace

        Outside the museum, you can enjoy the Rijksmuseum gardens. These public gardens are a delightful place to digest all the impressions of the museum and are often used for outdoor exhibitions.

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        NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

        Michelin-star restaurant RIJKS

        Chef Joris Bijdendijk has put modern Dutch gastronomy on the map with RIJKS. Since 2014, this Michelin-star restaurant has been housed in the Philips Wing of the Rijksmuseum. Bijdendijk has introduced the ‘cuisine of the Low Countries’, which is characterised by Dutch dishes in all their simplicity and also referred to as ‘Low Food’. RIJKS was awarded one Michelin star in 2016. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.

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        "I take my inspiration from the paintings in the Rijksmuseum"

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        Culinary experience in the KLM Lounge

        But it is not only at RIJKS where you can enjoy the culinary talent of Joris Bijdendijk. The brand-new KLM lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is home to the ‘Blue restaurant and bar’. Here you can enjoy culinary excellence with the magic of departing aircraft in the background. Savour your meal in the casual atmosphere of the restaurant, pull up a seat at the Chef’s Table in the kitchen or take a peek at the special cheese room, full of traditionally prepared Dutch cheeses.

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