The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum is the most important museum of The Netherlands. The Rijksmuseum holds a large collection of Dutch masterpieces from the 17th Century. Be amazed by the paintings of Dutch masters Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals. The Rijksmuseum on Amsterdam Museum Square also tells the 800-year long history of Amsterdam and Holland. Thousands of objects from the maritime days, sculptures, archaeological finds, costumes, weapons, Delftware and treasures brought back by sailors and traders from Asian lands give an astonishing insight in the local and colonial history, from the Middle Ages until today.
How to avoid lines at Amsterdam Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s busiest museums. Even if you have skip-the-line tickets, it can be annoying when there are many people looking at the same painting. April, May and August are the busiest months. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the most popular days for the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. Waiting times are at least 30 minutes. If you want to visit the museum in the most calm moment, arrive to the museum before the Rijksmuseum opens (before 9.00) and be the first to get in. Or visit the Rijksmuseum at the end of the afternoon (from 15.00 hours – 3 pm).
The Rijksmuseum also has temporary exhibitions. Check out what’s on this year in the Amsterdam exhibitions calendar.
You know what museums you want to see? Consider buying an Amsterdam City Pas
Amsterdam City passes give you entrance to one of more museums in Amsterdam, a canal trip and a transportpass. These passes can make your trip easier while you and save a few euros. We compared all of the Amsterdam city passes for you and listed a few combination deals.
5 Things you must see at the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum
The Amsterdam Rijksmuseum is very large. You will need a day to see everything. You will need at least 2 hours to see the highlights. Here are the 5 highlights of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum you must see:
1. The Rijksmuseum building
Although some might find the Rijksmuseum looks a lot like a Catholic church, the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum was built as a museum. The architect was Pierre Cuypers, a man who created many Catholic churches all over The Netherlands. Cuypers also created the Amsterdam Central Station, you might find they look very similar!
The Rijksmuseum was opened in 1885. But many people were not happy with the result, because it looked old fashioned and like a Catholic church. The Amsterdam elite was protestant, as was king William III. He said: ‘I will not set foot in that monastery’. He refused to lay the first brick and to perform the opening!
The Rijksmuseum building, outside and inside, is decorated in detail with tile pictures, stained-glass windows, sculptures, mosaic floors and wall paintings. Many of the images depict scenes of important events from Dutch history.
2. Gallery of Honour
The Gallery of Honour is one of the highlights of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. The gallery is a long corridor. Left and right are alcoves with the Dutch masterpieces of the Golden Age (the 17th century).
3. The Night Watch
The corridor leads to the most important painting of the The Netherlands: the Night Watch by Rembrandt. It portrays a captain (Frans Bannink, dressed in black with red sash) and luitenant (Willem van Ruytenburch, dressed in yellow with white sash) and their 16-men strong militia. This type of militia was composed of civil men. They protected the village or city in case of fire, crime or uproar.
The painting on the Night Watch is famous for its size, the dramatic use of light and shadow and the perception of motion in what would have traditionally been a static military group portrait.
4. Cuypers Library
One of the most impressive parts of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum is the library. It’s called Cuypers library. You can really notice the neo-gothic and neo-renaissance style that Pierre Cuypers, the architect loved so much.
Visitors, students and art historians may use the library to delve deeper into the Rijksmuseum collection. iPads are available for general use and there is free WiFi access both in the library and throughout the museum.
5. Asian Pavilion
From the 1600’s Dutch entrepreneurs who sent ships to East Asia, joined together to form the first multinational organisation: the Dutch East India Company, known in Holland as the VOC. The goal of the Dutch VOC was to create a monopoly on the spice trade in the entire area east of India. And so it did. By waging wars, negotiating treaties, striking their own coins and establishing entire colonies and governing them, the VOC company was most powerful trading entity for the next 200 years.
The exotic goods the sailors found in countries such as China, Japan, Formosa and Indonesia were shipped back home to Amsterdam: Chinese porcelain, precious Japanese lacquer and silk, strange spices, exotic animals, furniture made with black ebony and clothes of Indian cotton. From the example of Chinese porcelain, the Dutch created the famous blue-white porcelain we now know by the name ‘Delftware’, which is also in the great collection of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum.