Top 10 Rijksmuseum Facts

Welcome to the Rijksmuseum, where art and history meet. 

This article will provide fascinating Rijksmuseum facts to increase your appreciation of Dutch cultural heritage. 

Join us as we discover the wonders inside the museum’s walls, from famous masterpieces to hidden jewels. 

Prepare to be inspired and amazed by the Rijksmuseum’s collection’s wealth and diversity.

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1. Rijksmuseum contains a road

Something special about the Rijksmuseum building itself
Photo by Luca Lago on Unsplash

The Rijksmuseum is the only museum in the world with its road. 

The route was initially a historical gateway to Amsterdam and was open to cars until 1931. 

However, due to the impact on displays and the building itself, cars are not allowed, and the route is now exclusively open to cyclists. 

Visitors can still see the iconic gates and even one of the city’s earliest traffic signs, which features a golden finger pointing right and the inscription ‘INRIJDEN’ below it, signifying the use of the right side of the roadway.

2. A Vast Collection: One Million Objects at Rijksmuseum, with 8,000 on Display

The Rijksmuseum opened in 1885, but its collection began almost a hundred years before. 

It has room for approximately a million artifacts, but only about 8,000 are exhibited. 

If you want to see everything, it will probably take you a week. 

Wear comfortable shoes because the entire walking distance through the galleries is approximately 1.5 km. 

3. Around 8,000 wooden piles support the Rijksmuseum.

Amsterdam’s solid ground is around 15 meters below the surface because most of the city is below sea level. 

To deal with the swampy soil, the Rijksmuseum was built on 8,000 wooden piles, which still support the structure today.

4. The Netherlands’ largest art library is at the Rijksmuseum.

Have you seen the Rijksmuseum’s magnificent library on the second floor? 

It is the country’s largest art library, and the best thing is that anyone can visit. 

It’s undoubtedly one of the Rijksmuseum’s highlights! 

So, the next time you’re there and want to learn more about the attractive person in a group portrait, remember to make your way to the library.

5. In the 1960s, all of the wall artwork at Rijksmuseum was whitewashed.

The stunning wall paintings displaying artists, monarchs, and major Dutch events highlight the museum’s architecture. 

Surprisingly, the museum director in the 1960s argued that the works of art distracted visitors and failed to capture the modesty of the Dutch. 

He chose to coat them in white paint. 

Fortunately, during the museum’s restoration in 2013, the Rijksmuseum paintings were carefully restored and returned to their original beauty.

6. The Rijksmuseum was closed for 10 years

Floods were a big concern in the past, and even the Rijksmuseum faced it during its renovation in 2003. 

Water flowed into the museum when workers constructed a tunnel, producing a total flood. 

This unexpected disaster delayed the restoration by nine years and cost more than the budget.

7. Armor with one leg

Have you ever seen armor missing one leg? It is present in the Rijksmuseum!

This armor belonged to Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck, who unfortunately lost one of his legs and his life during the Battle of Gibraltar in 1607. 

He was the first Dutchman to be given an official state funeral. 

As a result, his armor became one of Rijksmuseum’s unique exhibits.

8. The Night Watch by Rembrandt was initially bigger than it is now.

The Night Watch, a famous work of art by Rembrandt, is the Rijksmuseum’s masterpiece. 

Interestingly, when it was shipped to Amsterdam’s City Hall, it had to be trimmed to fit the wall, leading to the loss of two men from the left side. 

Other interesting artwork characteristics include an inaccurate title and Rembrandt and his wife appearing in the portrait.

9. The picture from the 17th century features a stroopwafel.

In the 17th century, in one of Rijksmuseum’s famous paintings, “The Feast of Saint Nicholas” by Jan Steen, a basket holds a stroopwafel, a well-known Dutch delicacy.

It is suitable proof of the Netherlands’ long traditions, which have, in many respects, remained unchanged till today.

10. Landscape in Winter

Some Dutch paintings at the Rijksmuseum are packed with activity, making it hard to follow the story. 

One interesting artwork is Hendrick Avercamp’s Winter Landscape. 

It’s full of humorous details, such as a person using a public toilet with a visible hole and others laughing at a man who fell through the ice. 

On the other side, there’s a scene with a dog and crows eating out on an animal carcass. 

It depicts daily life in the 17th century.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is special about the Rijksmuseum?

The Rijksmuseum is unique because it has a vast collection of art and historical artifacts, iconic Dutch artists, and impressive architecture and offers a unique exploration of the history of Rijksmuseum and the Netherlands’ history and art.

Why is it called the Rijksmuseum?

The word “Rijks,” which means “national” in Dutch, gave the Rijksmuseum its name.  

The name “Rijksmuseum” refers to the museum’s status as the main place of storage for and display of Dutch art and history.

What is the most famous thing at the Rijksmuseum?

The Rijksmuseum’s most famous and iconic work is Rembrandt’s masterpiece, “The Night Watch.”

Has the Rijksmuseum always been a museum?

No, the Rijksmuseum has not always been a museum. In 1800, it was founded as an art gallery, and in 1885, it changed its name to become a museum.

What paintings are in the Rijksmuseum?

The Rijksmuseum houses a broad collection of paintings that span various periods and genres. 

It includes paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and other well-known Dutch artists.

Are there any paintings of female artists at the Rijksmuseum?

The Rijksmuseum showcases works by female painters, such as Portrait of Lizzy Ansingh by Therese Schwartze and The Serenade by Judith Leyster, showcasing their significant contributions to Dutch art.

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