Skip to main content

Locals will talk about a must-see item for any traveler to the Netherlands – the Rijksmuseum – Holland’s main national museum and a great show that illustrates the country’s magnificent history and art from the Middle Ages to our times. days. It is in this marvelous building of grandeur that visitors can enjoy an exclusive journey of discovery – a revered site where 8,000 objects and artefacts spread across 80 rooms tell the illustrious story of 800 years of art and history. Dutch.

A spectacle of the early days of Amsterdam’s Golden Age through to the most modern innovations to adorn the arts, one of the greatest museums in the Netherlands will likely take more than a few days to fully savor. So, for those short on time when visiting this bustling European city, it is the Rijksmuseum’s most esteemed treasures in its collection that visitors absolutely must see to believe.

ten The Milkmaid, Johannes Vermeer, 1654-58

As one of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic works, no visit to the Rijksmuseum would be satiated without witnessing the wonder of this piece. It is a beautiful painting of a servant, whose features are a beauty to behold. The colors, in particular, are worth noting, with their highly saturated blue and yellow tones as well as Vermeer’s elegant portrayal of natural light – both of which are deft artistic dots that create lifelike images, which consequently ( and rightly so) have continued to impress and even inspire new generations of art historians and artists.

9 The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

Painted by Rembrandt in 1642, The Night Watch is one of his most famous masterpieces. Taking center stage in its own opulent gallery dedicated to his talent and vision, this classic work of art marked a dramatic turning point in the historic artist’s career. A large, imposing painting set in its own royal section of the museum with a frieze that displays significant moments throughout Rembrandt’s life, the timeless piece depicts guards moving in formation, while a young girl looms in the first plan – the latter whose appearance is thought to be based on Rembrandt’s deceased wife.

Related: Delish: Top 10 must-try foods in Amsterdam

8 Marten and Oopjen, Rembrandt

Another set of world-class works by Rembrandt, these pairs of poses are so sought after that they were indeed purchased by the Netherlands and France in 2016. And because sharing is benevolent, the paintings alternate between their two world famous homes – the Rijksmuseum, and none other than the Louvre in Paris.

7 The Marriage Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen Frans, Frans Hals, c. 1622

This impressive portrait of a couple by Frans Hals in 1622 is believed to be Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen. Just another wedding painting, right? Not at all; it was the unconventional depiction of the portrait of the newlyweds that caused quite an outrageous stir at the time. When Hals painted it in the 17th century, wedding portraits were usually stiff and serious, with no apparent amusement allowed (God forbid anyone to show happiness). But when the smiling, happy couple and their comfortable pose and positioning were released in their martial painting, the public was apparently rather indifferent – even shocked.

6 Petronella Oortman’s Dollhouse, c. 1676

It’s not just age-old paintings and magical architecture on display at the Rijksmuseum; the complex is also home to a few kitsch and quirky items. In fact, visitors can admire the three highly detailed antique dollhouses, one of which actually inspired Jessie Burton’s 2014 novel, The miniaturist. Now, before anyone assumes that these are just children’s toys, people should know that these delicate 17th century dollhouses were the expensive pastimes of wealthy (and probably bored) housewives of that time. These houses were often decorated with high-quality materials, such as silver, porcelain, and glass, and also contained tiny, intricately scaled textile furnishings.

Related: 11 safest places to visit in Amsterdam (6 not to visit alone)

5 The Threatened Swan, Jan Asselijn, c. 1650

Painted by Jan Asselijn, this important painting with political undertones was the very first purchased by the Nationale Kunstgalerij – the predecessor of the Rijksmuseum. However, what makes this special work of art all the more fascinating is this: the swan in the picture vehemently defending its nest against an approaching dog is meant to represent Johan de Witt – an important political figure who is fought against the enemies of the state. And the impact of the image does not stop there; the swan even became a symbol of Dutch national resistance thanks to Asselijin’s memorable artistic take on such conflicts which obviously struck a chord in the country.

4 The Cuypers Library

Bookworms rejoice, as this is one of the largest libraries in Europe (and undeniably, one of the most beautiful). As the exalted home of the oldest and most extensive collection of art history books in the Netherlands, it is not at all surprising that book lovers and art lovers flock to this majestic center of history, art and information to discover its wealth of written wonders. form. Everyone is welcome to visit, to search the shelves for books, to study in peace in the striking surroundings or for a more modern approach – use the museum’s iPads to browse its endless online collection of books, texts and of titles.

Related: Only have 48 hours in Amsterdam? Here’s how to spend these two days

3 The gardens of the Rijksmuseum

A waltz before or after exploring the interiors of the museum, the majestic gardens are just as enchanting as the arts and artefacts displayed there. The whimsical and artistic lawns full of sculptures designed by Pierre Cuypers in 1901 are sensational and adorned with their own centerpieces to enjoy and take pictures of. Think ornate topiaries, sculptures and statues, pretty water features, vibrant flowerbeds, and nature’s outdoor piece de resistance: the huge butterfly walnut tree that towers above the playing areas of the grounds. And, visitors who come in the summer can also observe the pop-up installations and temporary exhibits that pop up throughout the warmer months.


All this exploration encompassing 8,000 sensations in 80 rooms of the Rijksmuseum is sure to whet the appetite – and the establishment’s Michelin-starred restaurant, RIJKS, is a must for any hungry visitor. A tantalizing representation of Dutch creativity in gourmet fashion, Executive Chef Joris Bijdendijk has created a unique menu inspired by the very flavors that have influenced Dutch cuisine over the centuries. Most meals are way too good to eat, so be sure to snap photos of each one before you feast. To make things even more incredible, the restaurant team often hosts highly acclaimed guest chefs to create and serve their own incredible dishes.

Related: How to Spend the Most Incredible Day in Amsterdam’s 9 Streets

1 The passage

Amsterdam loves cycling. In fact, it’s so bike-friendly that its most sublime museum allows people to pedal through its grounds – or its passage to be more precise. The Rijksmuseum passageway is an intriguing area that connects the two sections of its atriums, awe-inspiring large glass panels that allow pedestrians and cyclists to get a glimpse of the majestic museum within. Additionally, people passing through this particular passage have their own entrance music; it’s a popular spot among street musicians in Amsterdam who like to perform in public.

the reflection of amsterdam in a canal

10 reasons why Amsterdam should be on your bucket list in 2022

Read more

About the Author