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The return of the Rijksmuseum

The return of the Rijksmuseum
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Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is getting ready to open its doors again after the mother of all makeovers.

After 10 years and 375 million euros, the 19th-century building has been revamped and each of its 8,000 artifacts can now be found in a different place. That is, with one notable exception: Rembrandt…

As the director of the Rijksmuseum, Wim Pijbes, explains; “The Rijksmuseum was designed by architect Pierre Cuypers in 1885. This is a neo-gothic building with a kind of catholic image. The Gallery of Honour is a kind of basilica that ends not with a Christian display, but a civilian display: Rembrandt’s Night Watch.”

Indeed, for while Vermeer, Hal and Steen are several Dutch masters to feature heavily, Rembrandt continues to reign supreme over all others, with one of his most beloved works – The Jewish Bride – a centrepiece of the 17th Century section.

Collection Director at the Museum, Taco Dibbit, believes the new format is offers a more immersive experience for visitors: “In the old museum there was one room for paintings, a room for glass, a room for silver, and so on, while in the new museum, you take a walk through the period. The intention is to create a feeling of beauty in relation to Dutch art and a feeling for the time itself.”

Despite widespread excitement about the museum’s renovation – which includes a new Asian art pavilion and gardens – the Dutch Cyclists’ Union are one group set to veto the opening after they clashed with architects over a plan to block a cycle path running through the museum.

It seems that however feted Rembrandt may be in his homeland, nothing beats the bicycle in Holland.