Lifestyle & Belief

The Netherlands: Rijksmuseum’s renovation gets rave reviews


A visitor admires Rembrandt's masterpiece 'The Night Watch' at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, home to the world's finest collection of Golden Age art, at a press preview on April 4, 2013.


Charles Onians

The renovation of the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum of art and history, overran its budget by tens of millions of dollars and took five years longer than planned.

But now that it’s completed, critics are raving.

“Perfection has been reached almost everywhere,” the Netherlands' Volkskrant newspaper writes. “After ten years of cogitating, head scratching, restoring and categorizing, looking for cohesion and meaning, the Rijksmuseum has done it.”

The Guardian writes, “The long-awaited results are so spectacular that the museum looks likely to prove a model to other institutions for years to come.”

The 318 million euro (about $414 million) project restored frescoed walls and terrazzo floors had been painted over or removed in the museum’s 1885 building in Amsterdam, designed by architect Pierre Cuypers, according to the Guardian. A new entrance atrium and café were added.

The museum specializes in Dutch art, and its collection has been rearranged by time period, displaying sculpture and decorative arts side by side with paintings by masters like Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn.

Art historian Simon Schama, for one, loves the new arrangement. “When you see those early Rembrandts or the great mannerist ‘massacre of the Innocents’ of Cornelis van Haarlem with its ballet of twisting rumps, you will also encounter, as would those who would first have seen them, the silver, the weapons and cabinets that were the furniture of the culture that made those pictures possible,” he wrote in the Financial Times. “You will enter the Netherlands at a particular moment.”

The renovated Rijksmuseum opens its doors to the public on April 13.