21 Rijksmuseum Facts

Last Updated:

Gerrit Vandenberg

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

Disclosure: This article has affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It costs nothing extra, but you'll help keep my content free. It's a win-win!

Save the article (#20)

WANT TO SAVE THIS ARTICLE?

Enter your email below & I'll send it straight to your inbox!

And each week, I'll send you new tips to plan your Netherlands vacation. If you decide it's not for you (any longer), unsubscribing is always just a click away.

Gerrit profile image.

Hi, I'm Gerrit

I enjoy sharing useful tips about the beauty of this county.

Are you curious about fun Rijksmuseum facts that help you plan for a better trip?

Then you’re in the right place. As a friend of the Rijksmuseum, I visit the museum more than once a month. And I know a lot of helpful, interesting, and trivial, but fun facts about the Rijksmuseum that I bet you didn’t know.

As a Rijksmuseum insider let me share these insights with you.

I also take people on a guided tour of the museum. I love making every visit unique for people. Museums can be boring, but I always go out of my way to make it personal, fun, and interesting for you.

You don't just security staff in the Gallery of Honour very often.
You don’t just security staff in the Gallery of Honour very often – © Hidden Holland

1. The Best Hour To Visit The Rijksmuseum

The time slot that is chosen the most often is 11:00. A surefire way to have an unpleasant and crowded visit.

The least chosen time is 09:15 and this is perfect. That first hour is magical.

For more details about when to visit the Rijksmuseum, and tips click here.

As you’ve noticed the Rijksmuseum works with timeslots, so to buy tickets well in advance is important. Grab that 9.15 a.m. slot like you’ve won a precious prize.

2. Average Visiting Time

The average time people spend in the museum is 2 hours and 16 minutes.

Meaning if you get there by 9 am or just after. You’ll enjoying the cafe in peace and quiet when the majority of people are just arriving.

Enjoying amazing cake at the Rijksmuseum cafe.
Me enjoying the Rijksmuseum cafe with their amazing pie – © Hidden Holland

3. The Rijksmuseum Has 80 Rooms

Did you know the Rijksmuseum has 80 rooms, where they display 7,000 pieces of art.

Overwhelming yes, unless you have a plan.

Here is my post with my highlight paintings at the Rijksmuseum.

And here is another with non-painting highlights!

Fun fact: if you walk all rooms you would be walking for a mile (1.5 kilometers)

4. The Free Rijksmuseum App is the Same as the Audiotour

TIP: download the Rijksmuseum app, it’s free.

And it is exactly the same as the paid audiotour you can purchase at the museum. Just bring your own headset and enjoy world class tours on your phone for free.

It’s a quick way to save €6.50. That is money better spend at the cafe.

Empty library at the Rijksmuseum.
Empty library at the Rijksmuseum – © Hidden Holland

5. The Flowers At The Information Desk Are Real

Many people expect amazing flower display at the Rijksmuseum information desk to be fake. But they’re not. They’re fresh flowers.

Every Wednesday morning they’re replaced. So every time you come back you can enjoy another flower display.

Empty Vermeer section inside the Gallery of Honour.
Empty Vermeer section inside the Gallery of Honour – © Hidden Holland

6. The Threatened Swan Is The First Acquisition

Did you know the first purchase of the Rijksmuseum was the Threatened Swan by Jan Asselijn for just 95 guilders. About €45/$50.

The painting has been painted around 1650. It’s number 549 on your audio tour in the Rijksmuseum App. It’s an important historic piece for the Dutch republic.

7. The Swan Comes From The Collection of Jan Gildemeester

The Threatened Swan comes from the private collection of Jan Gildemeester. A painter himself.

The Rijksmuseum has a painting with Jan Gildemeester in it. It’s on display in room 1.10.

Can you spot the Rembrandt in this painting?

8. Room 1.3 Was A Chapel, Can You Still See It?

Not many people know that room 1.3 was a chapel before the renovations of 2003-2013.

Today it’s an exhibition room and the church like walls are not shown anymore, now there are white front walls for displaying art.

But look at the ceiling and you can see recognise the chapel.

9. The Museum is Build on 8,000 Wooden Piles

Because its swampy soil, many larger buildings in Amsterdam, including the Rijksmuseum, are built on wooden piles.

To construct the Rijksmuseum, no fewer than 8,000 piles were driven into the ground to support the building. It’s a fascinating fact about the Rijksmuseum that many visitors don’t know!

You might wonder how it survives time, but as long as the piles are under water they wood will not rot.

You can get super close to the Nightwatch when it's early.
Get super close to the Nightwatch when it’s early – © Hidden Holland

10. There Is a Road Running Through The Rijksmuseum

Did you know the Rijksmuseum is the only museum in the world with a road inside it?

This bicycle path was part of the original design to connect the old town with new residential areas south of the city center.

Initially, motorized vehicles were allowed until 1997. Can you imagine a 4 lane road passing right under the museum.

It was dangerous then for pedestrians since the 50 mile per hour speed limit was often not observed. It had the nickname the shortest motorway of the Netherlands.

Today it’s for bicycles only. But it’s just as dangerous, watch out!

If you’re thinking about biking in Amsterdam read my article first.

PS I read on some ill informed blogs that motorised traffic is banned since 1931. That is non-sense, cars under the Rijksmuseum where much more recent.

11. The Rijksmuseum is Open Every Day Of The Year

The Rijksmuseum never closes. That is right. It’s open 365 days a year, including Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

The museum opens every day of the week between 9 AM and 5 PM.

2.7 million people visit the Rijksmuseum annually. For those fast with math. That’s about 7,500 people every single day. Or 1,000 every hour it’s open.

And since most people choose 11 AM as their preferred time slot, see #1, you can now understand just how busy it can get! Make sure to get tickets in advance.

12. Rijksmuseum Membership aka “Vrienden”

Something not many foreign visitors know about, but an annual Rijksmuseum membership is not just for locals.

Becoming “vrienden” (friends in Dutch), is open for everyone. And it has some MAJOR benefits.

The biggest of them all: unlimited access to the museum WITHOUT the need for a time slot reservation.

You heard that right, with a Rijksmuseum membership you can enter the museum whenever you want, how often you want while you’re here.

Here are more benefits:

  • 15% discount in the excellent museum shop
  • 10% discount at the cafe
  • Online videos with excellent tours and lectures (with English subtitles)
  • In Museum events (but for visitors this benefit is minimal)
  • Priority entry lane (so you can truly skip the line)
  • Priority cloakroom lane for friends

But just the ability to get in when you want is priceless.

A Rijksmuseum membership costs €50 for one person, or €75 for two people. After that you can get in for free for a whole year and benefits from the benefits above.

13. This Where Most Rijksmuseum Visitors Come From

The largest group of visitors are the Dutch. Locals form the largest group. But right after the Dutch Americans are the second largest group at the Rijksmuseum.

Interesting right? Because it’s quite a trip for Americans. But there are more Americans at the Rijksmuseum then Brits, or Germans even though that’s a lot closer.

Here is the top 5 of international visitors, number 1 being the largest group:

  1. The United States
  2. Germany
  3. France
  4. The United Kingdom
  5. Belgium
No line at the Petronella Oortman doll house.
No line at the Petronella Oortman doll house – © Hidden Holland

14. The Rijksmuseum is Big Online

Did you know the Rijksmuseum website and social channels receive 70 million visitors a year! That’s 2.5x as much as in person visits.

It’s that a stunning number. But if you check out their website you understand why. It’s crazy good. The Rijksstudio is just amazing.

15. Central Station Is Almost A Replica of The Rijksmuseum

Did you know that Amsterdam Central Station and the Rijksmuseum are almost identical building? And they almost lie in a straight line from each other?

Both buildings were designed by the same architect, Pierre Cuypers, at the same time. And both where meant as a modern city gate.

Central station to connect the old city with the new to be build northern suburbs of Amsterdam Noord.

And the Rijksmuseum for connecting the old city with the new Amsterdam South area. Yes, when the Rijksmuseum was built, the now famous concert building did not exists yet.

It was just farmland then.

16. Pierre Cuypers Design Was Not The First Choice

Pierre Cuypers’ design for the Rijksmuseum building wasn’t the first choice.

But the initially selected design was deemed too expensive, lacking in wall space, and unsuitable for the museum’s contents.

So they went with the iconic design of Pierre Cuypers.

17. The King Was Not Happy When the Rijksmuseum Openend

King William III of the Netherlands at the time did not attend the museum’s opening. He disagreed with the choice of architect and design. It was too church like for him. Catholic he meant.

Juicy detail, his wife did visit, and loved the museum.

But he was not wrong that the museum was very much Church like.

After Cuypers design was approved he quietly made it even ‘more Catholic’ by removing Renaissance elements and adding Gothic ones.

The layout of the Gallery of Honour resembles a Gothic cathedral’s nave, with alcoves for artists instead of saints. The focal point, akin to a church’s high altar, is where Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” is displayed.

It’s still like that today.

In the early 1920s, all paintings in the Great Hall and the Gallery of Honor were removed, and many decorations were either disposed or painted over.

Gradually, more decorations, walls, and vaulted ceilings were painted white.

The end result was a white washed museum. The idea being making it more modest and the frivolous decorations would not take away from the painting anymore.

A crime if you ask me.

Thankfully during the large 10-year renovation from 2004 to 2013 all original decorations were restored to their former glory.

We now see the museum as Cuypers intended it.

PS: Some other blogs say the Rijksmuseum was whitewashed in the 1960s. That is very much incorrect. The whitewashing started in the 1920s.

18. The Nightwatch By Rembrandt Is Supposed To Be Larger

The largest, and most famous painting at the Rijksmuseum is without a doubt the Nightwatch by Rembrandt.

But did you know what we see today is not the whole painting?

It was originally painted for the Amsterdam City Hall (today the Royal Palace on Dam Square, a great visit by the way), but the wall where it supposed to go was too small.

Their solution: cut two sides off. Can you believe it?

On the left there is a painting that shows the original, so you can see the difference.

19. The Largest Art Library Is The Rijksmuseum Library

Empty library at the Rijksmuseum.
Empty library at the Rijksmuseum – © Hidden Holland

Today, people call the Rijksmuseum Library a Harry Potter like library. And I can’t blame them.

It’s one of the most beautiful libraries in The Netherlands, and also the largest art library in the country.

The collection includes around 450,000 objects, available for anyone to consult and study.

The large skylight above the library’s reading room was a modern innovation at the time, allowing daytime visitors to read without candles or gas lamps.

Cuypers designed the space to feel grand and larger than it is, with pillars narrower at the top and bottom to create an illusion of height.

Initially, the reading room contained about 3,500 books. Today, it houses only a small portion of the collection, with most objects now stored in tunnels beneath the building.

Did you know there is a wall inscription that promotes silence? It reads (in Dutch): “Thou has two eyes and one mouth. Let this be a sign to you – to read much, and not to speak.”

Today, there is a viewing platform on the 2nd floor. Just make a right at the Nightwatch and keep going. The doors to the library are on the left towards the end. When you go in, be sure to be quiet 🤫!

When you’re inside marvel at the staircase. The wrought iron railings were a modern material in the late 19th century, but Cuypers chose to have them hand-forged in an old-fashioned way. It’s stunning.

20. Visit the Rijksmuseum Gift Shop And Cafe For Free

Not many people know this, but you can visit the Rijksmuseum Giftshop and the Rijksmuseum Cafe for free between 5 PM and 6 PM.

When the Museum closes, the giftshop and cafe and cafe can be accessed for free for one hour. It’s a great moment to enjoy the wonderful cafe first.

(When the museum closes at 5 PM, most people flock to the gift shop). The cafe is empty. Enjoy a glass of wine or Dutch beer, with a portie Bitterballen.

Then at around 5:30 or so head to the gift shop which by then will be empty, and allows you still enough time to browse.

21. Consider A Rijksmuseum Tour

For a more personal experience, it’s best to book a private Rijksmuseum tour. There are just so many things to see. And so much to miss if you don’t know it’s there.

With a private tour you gain a much deeper understanding of the museum. You can choose between a highly engaging 2-hour tour with partners I trust. If you opt for the partner tour I recommend Rolf. He is very good in what he does.

Or you can choose a tour with myself, when I am available. My tours are (much) longer at around fours hours. But don’t worry we take it easy and with a break in between.

I personalize the tour as much as I can to your personal interests.

With Locals Rijksmuseum Private Tour.

Discover the Rijksmuseum in a unique way. Choose which guide speaks to you most, from art historians to artists.

  • Meet at the museum
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Choose between guides
  • Museum ticket not included

€205

Per PARTY

MORE DETAILS
A guided tour by the Van The Gogh Museum during the Auvers His Final Months Exhibition.

Get to know the Van Gogh Museum with the insights of a local expert. See the museum from a different perspective.

  • Meet at the museum
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Choose between guides
  • Museum ticket not included

€205

Per PARTY

MORE DETAILS
Gerrit Amsterdam Backdrop 280x280.

The Rijks With Me

Empty Gallery of Honour in the Rijksmuseum.

The Rijksmuseum is my favorite museum. Avoid overwhelm, and let me tailor your visit. I know every nook and cranny.

  • Meet at your accommodation
  • Pre-tour call included
  • Duration: 4 hours incl. break
  • Museum ticket not included

€399

Per PARTY

MORE DETAILS

Easiest Way to Get to The Rijksmuseum

Tram in Amsterdam.
Tram in Amsterdam – © Hidden Holland

Most people arrive by tram lines 2 or 12 from Central Station. It stops at the Van Gogh Museum and is a short stroll back to the Rijksmuseum.

This route is okay, but the trams are incredibly crowded. This route connects the most important tourist centers in the city. 

My secret tip is to take Metro line 52 instead. It’s just two stops from Central Station to the Vijzelsgracht station.

Super fast!

From the metro stop, it’s just a 5-minute walk to the Rijksmuseum main entrance.

From the Airport you can travel to the museum directly by bus. Bus 397 stops at the Rijksmuseum at Museum Square. Ask the driver when in doubt. 

You can buy tickets for this bus service here. It’s important to note these are NOT GVB buses. Thus, regular day tickets and the I Amsterdam City Card are not valid on this bus service.

Save the article (#20) (#31)

WANT TO SAVE THIS ARTICLE?

Enter your email below & I'll send it straight to your inbox!

And each week, I'll send you new tips to plan your Netherlands vacation. If you decide it's not for you (any longer), unsubscribing is always just a click away.

Find A Place To Stay In

Find accommodation in for the lowest prices on your favorite platform. What's great about this map is that it shows both Hotels, as VRBO rentals (like AirBNB but with lower costs).

Update your (intended) travel dates for accurate prices. TIP: Zoom out on the map (-) in the bottom right corner. This will show more options and availability.

Every Coffee ☕️ Counts!

Do you appreciate this article? Consider sending me a coffee ☕️ to support this website's upkeep. Every contribution matters and is deeply appreciated. Thank you for your generosity!

Would Like My Personal Help?

Planning a trip well is a lot of work and (or) can feel overwhelming.

Know I'm here to help with your Netherlands vacation.

When you book an Itinerary Consultation with me, I help you improve your itinerary and make your trip planning much faster and less stressful. I also enrich it with my unique insights and tips—local tips.

Unlike a blog article, with a one-on-one session, I can focus on you and your trip alone.

When you book an itinerary consultation with me, I'll take a look at your current itinerary/ideas. Then we meet on a (video)call, and we'll brainstorm together. You'll get the recordings of this call if you'd like. After the call I'll send you a summary.

30 minutes is a good amount of time for short trips up to 3 days, 60 minutes is usually needed for longer trips.

I’d love your thoughts:

Let's start a conversation 💬.

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

Leave a Comment