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The history of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the largest in the Netherlands



About Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum is one of the largest art museums in the Netherlands, with a large collection covering everything from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the 20th century, based on the concept of a journey through Dutch art and history.

The 8000 collection includes masterpieces by Rembrandt, Fran Hals and Vermeer.


Designed by Cuypers and opened in 1885, the Rijksmuseum was declared a national heritage site in 1970.

The museum consists of two square spaces on the left and right, with an atrium in the center of each space.

In the center of the building is a promenade called the Gallery Tunnel, which is as a gate connecting the Museum Square and the Old Town area.


It is now the largest museum in the Netherlands, but in the 85 years since the opening of the first national museum until the construction of the current Rijksmuseum, there was a past in which works of art moved around the country.



Repeated relocation of museums

The establishment of the National Museum dates back to the end of the 18th century.

When the Louvre opened in France in 1793, many tourists visited the Louvre from all over Europe.

The Rijksmuseum was established for open the Dutch national museum like the Louvre.


In May 1800, the first National Gallery was opened with 200 paintings in the Huis ten Bosch palace in Den Hague.

In 1805, the exhibition was moved to the Buitenhof in Den Hague.

The Netherlands came under Napoleon’s rule in 1806. By order of King Louis Bonaparte, the Rijksmuseum moves to the Royal Paleis in Amsterdam. At this time, the collection held by the city of Amsterdam was added.

After Napoleon was defeated, the Rijksmuseum was moved to the Trippenhuis (Royal Institute of Arts) in Amsterdam.

But Trippenhuis was not suitable for art storage. There, historical art objects are moved to the Mauritshuis of the Royal Museum in Den Hague, and 19th-century paintings are moved to the Museum in Haarlem.




The design of the Rijksmuseum

Two design competitions were held in 1863 and 1876 to build a Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The winner of the second competition was Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers.

He designed a building that combined Gothic and Renaissance elements, and construction began immediately.


Building sculptures and interior design were also selected in a competition. Therefor it took about nine years to complete the building.

Collections that had been moved to other museums were reassembled and the Rijksmuseum opened on 13 July 1885.



Renewal open

The Rijksmuseum has been constantly upgraded, with extensions and renovations to accommodate its ever-growing collection.

The Rijksmuseum was closed for 10 years from 2004 for large-scale renovation work, aiming for further evolution as an art museum that plays a part in history.


The large-scale renovation work was designed by Cruz y Ortiz, a Spanish architectur office, based on the concept of “Fusion of old and new.” At this time, the Asia Pavilion was newly added.

Reopened in April 2013, Rijksmuseum is one of the largest museums in the Netherlands, with over 2.2 million visitors annually.

Rijksmuseum, which has continued to move and upgrade according to the age and environment, will continue to change more and more.


Rijksmuseum (Sep 2022 survey)
Open: 9am-17pm
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
URL: Rijksmuseum



Museum Tour in Amsterdam