centerlogobigAAD logo


Do you recognize the emotion when after a decade you suddenly meet again the child of a dear friend? There is a definite sense of recognition, but the child has grown up, lost his pimples, changed his voice, suddenly became a man!? When you last met he was a boy, now you find yourself having a meaningful dialogue!? Do you feel the amazement, the pride and the inevetable self-reflection!?

Over the last couple of years I expressed my regret about not doing one of those hard-hat tours. A tour during the rebuilding of the Rijksmuseum. But now I am actually quite satisfied that I never did. The contrast between the Rijksmuseum in 2003 and the recently refurbished and now reopened museum is huge. But it is still ‘my’ Rijksmuseum. I immediately felt at home. The emotions are as described above.

My wife and I were honored with an invitation for the preview evening. A select group of people on the night before the official opening by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. To be followed by the opening for the public. They were expecting between 20.000 and 30.000 people in a timespan of 12 hours. Entrance will be free and you know the Dutch. A maximum of 4.000 may enter the museum at any time.

One of the most characteristic architectural features of the building is what is called the passage. The passage is a tunnel underneath the museum that in the early years allowed cars to pass from ‘south of the city’ to the city center. More recently it has been used by cyclists. Another thing the Dutch are know for. The long rebuilding was in part blamed on the discussions between architects Cruz y Ortiz and a Dutch cyclists federation. Pierre Cuypers, the original architect, could have never envisioned the cycling tunnel to be a orientation point from within the museum. Now the two entrance halls to the left and right of this tunnel slope down and meet up underneath it. The cyclists will be driving through the heart of the museum.


The gallery of honor houses the signature paintings of the Rijksmuseum. Amongst them Rembrant’s The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq, more commonly known as the Night Watch. And leading up to that the Jan Steens and Vermeers. The gallery lays directly above the passage and the two give you a tremendous ease in navigating through the 80 galleries. The galleries that, as the Rijksmuseum writes on the website, tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history through roughly 8.000 objects.

The new museum was set up differently than before. In the main routing of the museum you will not walk into a room filled with silver, filled with bronzes or ceramics. You will find nautilus shells next to Limoges enamels and a series of early costume paintings. Everything has been placed in context. You’re able to see objects that would have adorned a room in an aristocratic home in Holland. Groups are made in centuries; 1700-1800 or 1800-1900 up to 1900-2000. The large showcases with early Delft sit in the ‘William and Mary’ room. There is a Willem V or Enlightemnent room. It looks stunning and one object reinforces the other.

On the ground level there are spaces for what’s called the ‘special collections.’ Ship models, arms and armor, jewelry, fashion and music. Also at ground level you will find the entrance to a new annex housing, mostly underground, the Asian pavilion.

The Rijksmuseum has really become a serious destination for anybody who wants to see a beautiful museum housing a fantastic collection. The New York Times ranked the Rijksmuseum in the worlds museum top 10. I cannot and will not argue with that statement. It is truly overwhelming to again walk around in what is without a doubt one of the best museums of the world.

Any Dutchman can feel an enormous sense of pride and we’d love to share it with the world. I look forward to seeing you all in Amsterdam!