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Discover the Wonders of the Rijksmuseum Collection!

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses one of the biggest collections of history in the world, with 8,000 pieces of artwork! 

The museum has been open to the public since the 19th century, with displays of masterpieces by famous artists from the 17th to the 20th century.

Visitors planning to explore the Rijksmuseum collection must know all about the exhibitions and the most famous artworks it houses.

Read more about the collections and discover why over two million people visit this museum annually! 

History of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The museum was set up in The Hague in 1800 by King Louis Napoleon, and the collections housed here begin from the artworks taken from the Dutch colonies.

The museum was rebuilt in Amsterdam in 1808 and is a cultural hub, especially for the Dutch artwork preserved for years.

The museum’s designer was Pierre Cyupers, who included Gothic and Renaissance architectural elements, making the museum as beautiful as the art it held. 

Every year, the museum expands its collection allowing more artists to display their works to the world. 

The Rijksmuseum Collection

The Rijksmuseum Collection has one of the best collections of artwork from the 19th century, housing paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and others by famous painters. 

Here are some of the major collections open to the public in the Rijksmuseum: 

1. 17th Century Dutch Paintings

17th Century Dutch Paintings
Image: Sophieploeg.com

The Dutch paintings from the 17th century are among the biggest collections the Rijksmuseum holds.

At present, 33 paintings from a huge collection of 5500 paintings are out on display for the public. 

The paintings include works by famous artists such as Ferdinand Bol, Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Jan Lievens, Aert van der Neer, and many others.

You can also enjoy these paintings online, from the official website, but nothing compares to seeing them in person!

The collection holds one of the most famous paintings, the Night Watch, created in 1642 during the Dutch Golden Age by Rembrandt van Rijn. 

Some other paintings included in this collection are:

  • Prometheus being Chained by Vulcan
  • The Milkmaid
  • Many still-life paintings of flower vases
  • Many Dutch landscape paintings and more of other famous Dutch people.

Four famous Dutch paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries have replicas at the Rijssens Museum, made by the Canon Production printing machine.

It replicates all the tiny details of the piece using an elevated printing technique, which is a big step ahead of repainting the whole piece. 

These replicas are:

  • The Tower of Babel, by Henrick Van Cleeve III
  • Skaters on the IJssel near Kampen, by Barend Avercamp
  • Landscape with Farm, by Salomon van Ruysdael
  • Steep Riverbank, by Guillaume Dubois

This collection also includes six Van Gogh paintings, giving you a deeper insight into his life and painting techniques and more about Dutch culture! 

2. Dutch Drawings from the 17th Century

The Rijksmuseum also has a vast range of drawings from the 17th century, more than 5,000 pieces.

The Museum started collecting drawings and other prints on paper in the 17th century. 

The Vereniging Rembrandt Association, set up in 1883, helped bring in more important artwork by notable artists, including the works:

  • Hendrik Avercamp
  • Rembrandt
  • Jan van Goyen
  • Jacob van Ruisdael

The collection includes charcoal pencil portraits of people and animal drawings, colored landscapes, and more!  

The drawing collection kept expanding over the years as people kept donating to the collection.

None of the pieces from this collection are in the Museum, but you can see 485 works from this collection on the official website

3. Drawings by Rembrandt

Rembrandt Van Rijn is one of the most famous Dutch painters, exceptional for capturing the mood and emotions of people in his artwork. 

The museum has 22 beautiful paintings by Rembrandt and his famous self-portrait. 

His artworks focus on capturing realism, and critics agreed he preferred to capture ugliness over beauty in his paintings.

The Rijksmuseum has an impressive collection of 60 drawings carrying Rembrandt’s signature.

It covers many subjects, including landscapes, biblical figures, human portraits, and animal figures! 

Some of the famous works you can see in Rembrandt’s collection are:

  • Three Scribes, his first and most important painting
  • Study of a Woman’s Legs
  • Portrait of the Actor William Bartholsz Ruyter, and more

Rembrandt’s students also display twenty-eight other works, similar in style and form, in the online catalog. 

The painting Studies for the Sick Woman is the only Rembrandt work set on display in the Museum, and the other works are accessible online.  

4. Johannes Vermeer collection 

The Dutch Baroque painter Johannes Vermeer is famous for his beautiful paintings with perfect detail and composition.

The Rijksmuseum organized a huge exhibition dedicated to Vermeer in 2023, and you can see a permanent collection of his works in the Gallery of Honors.

He is known for his realistic human paintings, which capture light and shadows perfectly, even though it is a close-up portrait. 

His paintings are like photographs, as they mostly capture women doing everyday tasks that most people overlook in real life.

Some of the famous Vermeer paintings on display in the Gallery of Honors are:

  • The Milkmaid
  • Woman Reading a Letter
  • View of Houses in Delft 
  • And The Love Letter

These paintings are smaller than the other paintings on display, but they capture the most attention at the Rijksmuseum. 

5. Hercules Segers Works

Hercules Segers Works
Image: Wikipedia.org

Hercules Seger is a Dutch painter and famous graphic artist known for creating the most original works.

He combines hand-colored impressions and uses fabric or Asian paper to create texture.

The Rijksmuseum is the only museum in the world that houses the largest collection of Hercules Segers’s works. 

His landscape paintings are unique in texture, and he rarely captures human figures.

Lamentation of Christ and Tobias and the Angel are the most famous paintings by Hercules Segers, with human figures, which are only at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. 

Some other paintings included in the Rijksmuseum collection are:

  • Views of Amersfoot
  • Ruins of Bredeorie Castle
  • A Rearing Horse before a Landscape

You can also see pictures of these paintings online in the digital library. 

6. Navy Model Display Collection 

Perfect for sea lovers and architects, the Navy Model Display collection at Rijksmuseum will take you on a ride through history, which the Department of the Navy set up!

Since 1817, the museum has had a room for these displays of small replicas of old ships and their parts, made before constructing the actual vessel.

Walking through this collection is a journey through the evolution of ships.

Some of the fun objects you can see on your visit from the varied collection are:

  • Barometers
  • Models of Anchors and Rudders
  • Bridge models
  • Model of a Gunboat, and much more!

Rijksmuseum received the collection between 1883 and 1889, and you can also see paintings of naval engagements in this room. 

7.Netherland Paintings 

The 365 paintings in this collection date back to the 1500s, taken from the Northern and Southern Netherlands.

It holds paintings made by famous artists, including Lucas van Leyden, Quinten Massijs, and an anonymous master known as Master of the Virgo inter Virgines.

On your visit, you can see around 50 of these paintings, most of them Biblical paintings.

Forty six paintings in this collection are by anonymous artists, which you can see for free online on the official website.

8. Goslings Collection – Surimono

This collection has a stunning collection of 345 Japanese paintings on paper to make woodblock prints, illustrated books for children, and other drawings.

Surimono, which means printed things, is a form of print combining poems and art, leaving the visitors with a sort of picture puzzle.

The prints used metallic pigments and blind printing, making the pieces unique. 

Still-life paintings, calming landscapes, and famous heroes from mythical stories were drawn using this form of art.  

You can see all these artworks on the official website online.

9. Flemish Art Collection 

The paintings in the Flemish art collection are native to the Netherlands and have 128 paintings and four kunstkastjes, made by artists before or after the 1570s up to 1700.

The Kunstkastjes is a piece of furniture, like an ebony cabinet, covered completely with paintings, used for storage. 

You can see beautiful paintings and kunstkastjes made by famous artists, including Frits Lugt, J.G. van Gelder.

Some of the paintings in the Flemish art collection are:

  • The Gamblers
  • Still life paintings
  • Pan punished by Nymphs and many more. 

10. Asian Collection

Explore the art history of Asia, with almost 8,000 pieces of artwork, including sculptures, paintings, temple ornaments, jewelry, etc., at the Rijksmuseum’s Asian collection.

Most of the items in this collection are by locals and are daily-use items in Asia, allowing people to dive deeper into the history and culture of the continent.

It is the only museum in the Netherlands with a collection of Asian artwork and is a must-see! 

The collection consists of wooden, bronze, silver, and stone sculptures, including Japanese and Indian Buddha sculptures and a silver Shiva and Parvati statue from Java.

The museum also has over two thousand Japanese prints, including nature prints and those of Mt. Fuji, by renowned artists like Hokusai, Hiroshige, and Yoshitoshi. 

People who enjoy pottery and interior decoration will enjoy seeing the crafted bowls and ceramic decorations, like a crane-shaped container.

Special Japan-made raku bowls, along with glass and enamel bowls from India, dating back to the 18th century, are on display here. 

11. Sculpture Collection

A display of more than a thousand sculptures made from wood, bronze, alabaster, and other materials is put out for public viewing at Rijksmuseum.

Most of these sculptures belong to the Dutch, and Italians, and many Asian sculptures can be seen here as well!

The museum holds beautiful red terracotta sculptures, which are painted in many colors, made by the famous Flemish artist, Artus Quellinus. 

The oldest sculpture in this collection is Hercules Freeing Prometheus, made by French sculptor Francois Lespingola.  

12. Furniture and Interior Collection

For those who love carpentry and interior design, the furniture and interior collection are must-sees at the Rijksmuseum!

The dollhouses, which belong to the wealthy Petronella, contain a large collection of hand-made furniture and silver decorations.

The houses resemble the 17th-century houses, allowing visitors to glimpse at the past.

The museum has a collection of over 200 tapestries made in all different parts of the world, and the most famous among them is the Cephalus and Procris tapestry from Brussels.

The collection also showcases different writing desks, the most famous being the desk by Abraham Rotenger, with drawers and cabinets, and its legs carved with a depiction of all four seasons. 

13. Fashion Collection

Fashion Collection
Image: Artstalkmagazine.nl

The collection at the Rijksmuseum has thousands of antique items, perfect for designers and fashion enthusiasts.

The collection also has a variety of hair clips, watches, jewelry, and accessories from the 16th and 17th centuries. 

Most of the collection is from the Dutch, but you can also find clothes from Paris, India, and China in this collection, including a Japanese Kimono.

The Netherlands was a huge market for watches in the past, making the pocket-watch collection at the museum one-of-a-kind! 

14. Applied Arts Collection

Visiting the Rijksmuseum is like diving into a history book, especially the daily used items, which let you explore the life of people from the past.

With a collection of around 15,000 decor items, including vases, tablecloths, salt shakers, glass items, and much more, the museum is a treasure trove of the past.

You can see beautiful Dutch, Venetian, and Waldglas glass pieces, with delicate designs on their surface, and a unique dice glass at the Rijksmuseum. 

The ceramic collection at Rijksmuseum is the most beautiful, with blue and white Delftware pieces, the most famous being an earthenware guitar.

This collection also has different textiles on display made of silk, Damask, embroidery, and lace. 

15.Weapon Collection

Weapon Collection
Image: Commons.wikimedia.org

Along with the ship display collection, you can also find a stunning weaponry collection with canons, firearms, suits or armor, and other weapons in this collection.

The rare pistols with ivory handles, flintlocks, and other weapons, used by Napoleon will excite anyone visiting the Rijksmuseum!

You can also see a carved Naga canon, which has a dragon’s head-shaped muzzle, and 200 other unique canons to learn about warfare from the past.

The armor worn by naval heroes Piet Hyen, Michiel de Rutyer, and more is a major attraction in the Rijksmuseum. 

Many daggers, sabers, and other hand-held swords are also a part of the weapon collection at the museum.  

16. Photography Collection 

The photography collection has lakhs of black and white and colored photographs from 1839 to the present.

It is a great way to explore the life of people and the development of the camera.

Photographers will enjoy this collection, as it displays photographs captured from unique angles and under different kinds of lighting, allowing them to be more creative.

You can find stunning images captured by Dutch photographer Edouard Issac Asser, Sanne Sannes, and many other experts in the field!  

Other Special Exhibitions at Rijksmuseum

To make the visit much more exciting for tourists and locals, the Rijksmuseum adds new items to its vast collection annually and holds special exhibitions!

Some of these exhibitions in the past have been a great success, and the best way to explore these is by taking a guided tour of the Rijksmuseum.   

One of the most famous exhibitions was the largest Vermeer exhibit.

It focused on the colorful life of Johannes Vermeer and his famous paintings, including Girl with a Pearl Earring. 

They also organize festive activities and winter workshops for children and adults, making it the perfect date spot!

The Ammodo, a non-profit organization, helped the museum organize temporary exhibitions till 2024, allowing locals of the Netherlands to learn about world art history.

A new exciting exhibit on the life and painting display of Frans Hals will arrive in the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands in 2024! 

Check the official website for other workshops and exhibitions in the future, and book your tickets in advance! 

Tickets to Enjoy the Rijksmuseum Collection 

Buy your tickets online, as no tickets are available at the gate. 

The standard entry ticket to the Rijksmuseum gives you access to the permanent exhibitions for adults between 19 and 99 years for €24. 

Children 18 years and below can enter the museum for free!

History buffs and art enthusiasts will love the guided tours with reserved entry access to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam for €50. 

Famous Artworks you Must See when Visiting the Rijksmuseum Collection 

Famous Artworks you Must See when Visiting the Rijksmuseum Collection
Image: Petr Polak (Canva)

Since the Rijksmuseum is huge and offers a vast collection, visitors might miss out on the best pieces.

Here is a small list to ensure you don’t miss these beautiful pieces of artwork:

  • The Night Watch, by Rembrandt van Rijn, is the most famous piece in the museum, in the Gallery of Honor.
  • Japanese Temple Guardian sculptures  
  • Doll’s hours of Petronella Oortman
  • Woman Reading a Letter and The Milkmaid, by Johannes Vermeer
  • The Merry Family, by Jan Steen
  • The Threatened Swan, by Jan Asselijn
  • Self Portrait, by Vincent Van Gogh, and many more!

For a detailed description of must-see pieces, refer to our article.

Tips to keep in mind when visiting the Rijksmuseum collection

Here are some important things to remember when visiting the Rijksmuseum collection in Amsterdam:

  • Plan the rooms you want to visit in advance, as the Rijksmuseum is huge, and it takes about five hours to see all the exhibits and rooms.
  • Book your entry tickets in advance online, as they are not available at the gate, and there are limited tickets available.
  • Don’t visit on weekends or during peak hours. The Rijksmuseum receives over two million visitors every year. It is crowded on weekends. 
  • When capturing photographs in the museum, don’t use the flash. Flash photography is not allowed.
  • Visit the Gallery of Honor at the beginning of your trip, as the most famous paintings are in this room. It gets crowded later in the day.
  • Check the official website for temporary exhibitions and workshops to book your slot in advance. 
  • Check out the research library and restaurant for a quick break on your visit. 

FAQs for Rijksmuseum Collection

1. How many pieces of art are in the Rijksmuseum?

The Rijksmuseum has 8,000 pieces of art from the Dutch colonies. There are many collections to explore in the museum. 

2. What is special about the Rijksmuseum?

Located at the heart of Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum houses 8,000 pieces of art from Dutch and Europe. It has famous pieces by artists like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and more!

3. What is the most famous work in the Rijksmuseum?

The most famous work in the Rijksmuseum is The Night Watch, a painting by Rembrandt van Rijn in the Gallery of Honour.

4. What masterpieces are in the Rijksmuseum?

You can see many paintings like Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, The Threatened Swan by Jan Assleijn, a beautiful doll house, and much more in the Rijksmuseum. 

5. What are the ticket prices for exploring the Rijksmuseum collection?

The price of the standard entry ticket for adults is €24. Children 18 years and below have free entry! 

6. How many Rembrandt paintings are in the Rijksmuseum?

22 paintings by Rembrandt are at the Rijksmuseum. You can see more paintings by him, and his students online on the official website. 

7. Do all collections in the Rijksmuseum have the same visiting hours?

Yes, the visiting hours from 9 am to 5 pm are the same for all the collections displayed in Rijksmuseum. 

8. Can I buy tickets to see the Rijksmuseum tickets at the entrance? 

No, there are no tickets available at the entrance of the Rijksmuseum. You must buy the tickets online in advance. The price of the standard entry ticket for adults is €24. 

Featured Image: Sothebys.com

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