Amsterdam and the Netherlands have a rich and colorful history and the Rijksmuseum presents this to its guests with a wonderful collection of Dutch art and history. It is located near several other well known museums in Museum Square (Museumplein).
Although originally housed in The Hague, the museum was moved to its present location in 1885. Since then, it has undergone several renovations and reconstructions. It is presently undergoing an extensive renovation and only a relatively small part of the collection is on show. It is hoped that the new museum will be open in 2012.
The museum boasts an extensive collection of old masters including Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch', Johannes Vermeer's 'The Milkmaid' and Jan Steen's 'The Feast of Saint Nicholas'.
There are over 400 hundred masterpieces on display which trace the history of the Netherlands from its rich Golden Age in the 16th and 17th centuries to the present day. There is also a smaller collection dated from the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the paintings depict activities of people going about their everyday lives and thus gives us an insight into Dutch life and history.
Complementing the wonderful paintings of the masters are several other exhibits showcasing other art forms. These include an impressive doll's house collection and the famous Blue Delft porcelain, as well as an extensive silver and chinaware collection. Model ships used in war and trade are also on display, depicting Holland's affinity with the sea. Here there is a wonderful detailed model of a warship dating back to 1698.
The museum also is home to the largest public art research library in the Netherlands.
People with museum cards get in free and those who purchase their tickets online avoid the sometimes large queues at the entrance. There are various discounts available and children under 18 are free. Be aware that you are not permitted to take any video or photographs of the exhibits.
Guided tours are offered as well as audio tours in several languages. Most of the exhibits are well labeled in both Dutch and English.
There's a lot of artworks inside, and you'll probably be pretty lost. I downloaded the Periplus audio-guide (www.peripl.us), it certainly helped to make sense of the major pieces in the galleries.
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