In the name of Rembrandt, Vermeer et al
Amsterdam's treasure trove of "8,000 artistic and historical objects that tell the story of 800 years of Dutch history, from the year 1200 right up to the present". The museum started life in 1800 in the Hague, then moved to Amsterdam eight years later, shifting to its current location in 1885. The stately but fairytale-like red brick building, designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885, was given a €375m makeover between 2004 and its full-throttle reopening by Queen Beatrix in April 2013. The resulting transformation, care of architects Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz (from Seville) and museological designer Wilmotte (from Paris), is a triumph, combining detailed restoration and a return to the original layout with many new and modern features, including an expansive, airy and high-ceilinged hall with user-friendly café and bookstall, partly reminisecent of Tate Modern in London. The museum's centrepiece tourist attraction is Rembrandt's magnificent De Nachtwacht (The Night Watch), but there's a lot more here including not one or two but three Vermeers, other Rembrandt masterworks such as Isaac and Rebecca (aka The Jewish Bride) and painted or sculpted works by Hals, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Hals, Hondecoeter, Cornelisz van Haarlem, Tilman Riemenschneider and others. Another gem is the visually stunning library – Holland's largest art history collection, open to the public only since April 2013. 'Rijksmuseum' translates as 'national museum'.
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