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Newly reopened Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and my Museum Fest

Very much looking forward to my first trip to Amsterdam. Plan on six full days with a view to returning in a couple years and I have several days on either end of this museum fest for other things. So, question re the Riksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum etc. I can only take about 3 hours and then I can't take anymore input to my brain. LUNCH! Walk in the park or bike ride etc. then back to art! So I plan on going to several museums twice on separate days. Favorites? Must sees, I mean other than the obvious like The Night Watch etc. Specifically any museum bits that you sorta went - well, look at that! Hoping this board can give me some tips on those out of the way, not well known pieces of art that get overlooked. Yes, I understand you can never see, appreciate it all but really sometimes you see something, maybe a tiny something, and it's great is that!

Posted by
2081 posts



with regards to fying your brain on art, i do it all the time on my travels. Its the side affect of having an art/architecture background.

i dont remember if you can leave/go back in with out paying, but someone will chime in about that.

When i went to the Van Gogh museum it was large, but the art spread out and galleries large. So, you could spend 3 hours there, but i think you will be able to do it in shorter time, unless you get transfixed by some art.

The Rijks, is a different story. There is in my opinion more stuff to see so you could spend 3 hours easily.

Luckily for you there is a park between the two museums to chill, walk around and have some fun. Worse case walk back into the town area and do some people watching.

in the Rijks, there was a piece of art like a grandfather clock. i was surprised it was there, but it works.

happy trails.

Posted by
2829 posts

If you really like art museums you should give serious consideration to spending a day at the Kröller-Muller museum and sculpture park ( It is, in my opinion, the top art museum of the Netherlands, it has plenty of Van Gogh art and it is located on an amazing setting within a national park 1h40 east of Amsterdam. It has a vast sculpture/installation art park on the outside which is an attraction on its own, not to be missed.

Posted by
380 posts

Hi, Marie

Go onto the museum's websites and view the collection. That will give you an idea what you might like to see in detail and skip the ones that do not appeal to you.
I use Wikipedia to get more information on the paintings I like.
You might also check the museum shop. There might be a small book describing the masterpieces. The Prado does that.
Have a good time. Eat some Dutch pancakes.

Posted by
5261 posts

With that long a stay, consider investing in a Museumkaart for 55 euros. It gets you into 34 museums in Amsterdam and about 400 in the Netherlands, and is good for a year. Should pay for itself after four or five admissions. Makes it easier to visit museums you're not sure you'd like, or with only a few things you'd like to see, or to make repeat short visits like you suggest. The Rijksmuseum is very large and rather hard to get around in, despite a $375 million remodel (we could never figure out how to avoid stairs with my wife's bad knee). Van Gogh is smaller and easier, though oddly organized. Another good one is the Amsterdam Museum, which is about the city's history but has a lot of art and artifacts. Another, for history not art, is the Dutch Resistance Museum. And people say the Franz Hals Museum in Haarlem, a short train ride away, is excellent, though I haven't been. My wife liked a place called the Katten Kabinet, on Herrengraacht I think, which was all about cats.

With six days you can pace yourself and revisit the big museums as well as doing other fun things. With the Museumkaart you can revisit without added cost or psychological hangup. Have fun and watch out for all the #^%#&)&^% bicycles!

Posted by
963 posts

Marie, in July we spent the morning at the Rijksmuseum, left for lunch ( found a wine shop that made sandwiches with a bench outside, perfect) and returned. We went in every room that day, and the only rooms that were crowded were the Halls with the most famous paintings- Ah, but they make you smile to see them.
The models of old ships- better than I thought. The blue and white porcelains? Interesting shapes. The cabinets- way out of my sphere. DO buy your tickets in advance and make sure you aren't standing in a line unnecessarily. You can enter on either side, and keep your ticket handy cause you will need to show it after the restroom or switching sides.
The Van Gogh had a line outside it all day, and was sold out 4 days in advance, so no impulse buying unless you were willing to pay full fare for an entry at 3:30 pm or so.
I've been to the Rijksmuseum 4 times,but still walked thru the 'Hall of Fame" twice. yes- preview the collection online and consider buying the book.

Posted by
3681 posts

If you get the Museumkaart, be sure to ask if it is accepted wherever you go. There was only one place it didn't work for us in all of the Netherlands last spring.

I'll add what may be a little odd to some, but we thoroughly enjoyed the Tropenmuseum ( Through a series of very well done exhibits, it covers the cultures of many "tropical" countries, including the art, architecture and music. It has quite a nice cafe that provides meals appropriate to the coverage of the museum.

I will also recommend the Dutch Resistance Museum ( Be sure to see the film before going through it. The theme of the museum is how people responded to the occupation of the Netherlands by the Nazis. Did they adapt, collaborate or resist? I rarely read or watch or listen to everything in any museum, but this one is so well done that I took it ALL in like a sponge.

I know these two suggestions may be a little off your Museum Fest radar, but I also have a strong art and architecture background and they were both amazing to me, and made nice breaks from all art all the time.

The Rijksmuseum was such a zoo when we were there (it had just reopened and it was the week before the new king took over) that it was not very enjoyable for us. However, we did spend time in the 1100-1600 section and loved that.

We bought our Museumkaarts at the Franz Hals Museum in Haarlem. At the time we were there, they had a wonderful exhibition of how Hals and his contemporaries painted the same kinds of images in such unique ways. The Museumkaart does not usually cover these special exhibitions, but the additional charge was minimal and included the headset in English.

The point is to be sure to learn what the special exhibitions (with the additional little fees) are about, because they can provide a "how great is that" experience.

Be prepared to wait in line even if you have a Museumkaart. Museum entrance may be limited to a few at a time. You may have to go through security and possibly check some of your belongings.

This is going to sound touristy, and it is, but taking the Canal Bus all around the city with its hop on, hop off options is great. There is a stop right by the Rijksmuseum. We took it on almost every canal line it has. In my opinion, it was the best way to see the architecture along the canals, old and modern.

Finally, get a public transportation pass there and invest in a Streetwise Amsterdam Map before you go. You will use both more than you might imagine.