Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dutch Art Showcase: Het Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

One of my very first outings in The Netherlands more than twenty years ago was visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Considered the 'grandaddy' museum of the country, I can honestly say that I enjoy visiting it more than the Louvre in Paris. But I guess I'm a little biased.

Painful admission: before I even realized The Netherlands and Holland were the same country, I minored in art history in college. The Dutch Masters were my favorite painters even more than the masters of the Italian Renaissance.

I still believe that with the exception of Michaelangelo, there has never been a greater artist in the world than Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn. Again, I may be a teensy bit biased here since my husband is a descendant of (or at least a distant relative of) the world-famous Golden Age master. My family happens to live near Rembrandt's birthplace of Leiden. The local folks, while proud of their amazing painter who skyrocketed into worldwide fame before the age of Twitter, still to this day seem to take it all in stride.

The building that houses the museum is more than 200 years old (ancient to us Americans!) The museum structure has become such a beloved fixture of the old city of Amsterdam that if it were ever to be removed, the city would never be the same. Somewhere in 2000, it was decided that it was necessary for the building to undergo a massive reconstruction where it has remained for more than a decade.

In spite of the remodeling and reconstruction, the museum has remained opened to its nearly 1,200,000 visitors a year. The grand re-opening is slated to take place somewhere in 2013 with (hopefully) yours truly somewhere near the front of the line.

Along with Rembrandt's famous masterpiece The Nightwatch, visitors can view some of the most magnificent pieces created by Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, and many, many others all combined to create a staggering collection of 900,000 (!) pieces of art.

If you are planning a trip to the Netherlands in 2013, make sure you make time to visit this amazing piece of Dutch history. If you are only passing through The Netherlands, you can see an abbreviated version of the museum at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Official web site of the Rijksmuseum:

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