Rijksmuseum is one of the top tourist destinations in Amsterdam as well as in the Netherlands. Its rich and historical art displays invite millions of travelers from all around the world to the museum every year. Even though you may include the museum on your Amsterdam tours itinerary, there is a lot to Rijksmuseum that meets the eye of a commoner. Below are 10 interesting facts related to the museum that you may not know.
A Million Objects
It might be quite surprising to hear that there are one million objects in total in Rijksmuseum, yet only 8,000 of it are on display. This museum’s collection is known to have started at least hundred years ahead of its opening. If you wish to see all the displayed items, it would probably take you a week, and you will have to walk a distance of 1.5 km too.
Whitewashed Wall Paintings
The artistic wall paintings in the Rijksmuseum are historical pieces that showed rulers, artists, and main events that happened in the Dutch history. These paintings were definitely a key feature of the museum. However, in the year 1960, the director of the museum thought that these paintings distracted the visitors from the displays, and hence, he decided to whitewash it. Fortunately, these paintings were brought back to life after the museum was renovated.
A Through Road
Rijksmuseum is the one and only museum in the world having a road inside it. This museum was built at the city’s edge so they wanted to link this historical museum with the neighborhoods that were intended to be built on the other side. This road was opened to public motorized vehicles until 1931, but only bicycles are now allowed to pass through.
Houses the Biggest Art Library
The Rijksmuseum Research Library housed in the second floor of the museum is the largest public art library in the Netherlands. You can get a free membership here, as this library is open to everyone. The online web catalogs have around 3,400 periodicals, 90,000 art sales catalog, and 300,000 monographs. Furthermore, 50,000 art sales records that were published before 1989 have not been entered online yet.
It Was Closed for 10 Years
Rijksmuseum was closed for ten whole years due to a flood that occurred in 2003 when they started digging a tunnel below the road. Due to this, the museum was entirely flooded with water from the canal nearby. This extended the restoration works for another nine years, and they faced huge financial loss due to it, of course. It was expected to be opened again in 2006, but the reopening was extended to 2013.
Rembrandt’s Night Watch Made Small
It is said that Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ was moved to the City Hall just a few years after it was painted. However, this painting did not fit correctly on the wall they wanted to put it on. Hence, instead of moving it to a better place, they opted to resize the painting and cut it out. Thus, now two men on the left side of the painting are missing.
Missing Armor’s Leg
If you have a visit to the Rijksmuseum gallery, you will notice that there is an armor with no legs. Though it makes someone think that the leg piece is lost, this is not the case. It actually represents Admiral Jacob van Heemskerk who lost in a battle of Gibraltar during 1607. He was the first Dutch person to have received an official state funeral that honored his victory in the war during the time when he lost his leg, and unfortunately, his life.
Winter Landscape with Skaters
Dutch paintings usually have a lot going in them and often are quite complex to understand fully. One such painting is the ‘Winter Landscape’ by Hendrick Avercamp. This painting features the everyday life of Dutch in the 17th Century. You can see some people doing chores, a boat sailing away on a sled, a dog chewing on a dead carcass, and even more to see.
Built on 8,000 Wooden Piles
You may know that all houses in Amsterdam are built on piles due to the fact that a major portion of the Dutch city is below the sea level, and hence, the houses may sink into the swampy ground. In ancient time, larger buildings used wooden piling, and so did the Rijksmuseum. The 8,000 wooden piles used for the construction of the museum still support it.
17th Century Stroopwafel
In one of the paintings by Jan Steen, you can see a basket of stroopwafels in it. This Stroopwafel represents the 17th Century traditional sweet that acts as a true ode to traditional Dutch food. If you look at it carefully, you can notice that the sweet still looks exactly the same it is available in Amsterdam today.