Delftware, Ship Models and Romanticism- Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

And now we get into the good stuff…

That was my thought as I left the Hall of Honor gallery and headed towards the rest of the galleries on the second floor. Not to say the paintings and areas I had been in before weren’t very literally breathtaking but, as i’ve mentioned before, my jam is more historical objects/documents than paintings, and boy was I in for an overflowing bounty of arrestingly interesting pieces and items of all kinds.

All kinds of beautiful artwork, craftsmanship and exquisite what have you was what I found wandering the halls of the more than 30 galleries devoted to the 17th century (1600–1700) . From the Navel Power gallery to the King Stadtholder III and Mary Stuart gallery and French Court art and Delftware, there’s honestly something for everyone- provided of course that you interested in these kinds of things in the first place. But what would you be doing here in the museum if you weren’t?

I ended my visit back on the first floor,The 18th century (1700–1800) , making sure to get a good look at the three Van Gogh paintings housed here because at the time I had decided I wouldn’t try and go to the separate Van Gogh museum on this visit. I sat for a good amount of time just there near the entrance/exit area just taking it all in, experiencing that godawful feeling of nostalgia for a moment you’re still living in and wondering if I would ever get the chance to come back to this amazing musuem. Eventually I kicked that weird mood though, and went to hit up the giftshop, because of course I did, it’s become literally impossible for me to go somewhere and not leave many (many) euros lighter.

I headed back to my hotel just a couple of blocks away and enjoyed the great weather on the walk back, a complete sunny departure from the foggy rain of that morning. Once back at the hotel, dinner on it’s way and my bed covered in museum brochures and more ticket stubs than I could count, I made plans for the next day which did actually end up including the Van Gogh museum because go figure.

~m

p.s here’s a floor-plan for the Rijksmuseum for anyone curious.

Medieval Treasures and Night Watch Crowds – Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

It would be hard- though not impossible- to be in  Amsterdam and not visit one of the many amazing museums located there. For me, the struggle was real when it came to deciding between museums like the Ann Frank House, The Van Gogh Museum, and even the rather esoteric Museum of Bags and Purses. Thankfully this heartbreaker of a decision is something tour guides are well aware of and during the morning walking tour I took the guide our group had helpfully suggested that if you were pressed for time and you really could only visit one museum, the best choice would be the Rijksmuseum.

Reasons why this would be your best bet? It’s the largest art museum in the country (and one of the most visited), has a total collection of 1 million objects that span the years 1200 to 2000 – 8000 of which are on display to the public- and it even has three paintings by Van Gogh so that you won’t completely miss out on the experience of seeing one of his paintings here even if you can’t make it to the Van Gogh museum. The museums collection is focused on arts, crafts and history- which made it all that more fantastic for me because while I like art museums, wandering hall after hall of paintings can lose it’s appeal for me after a while. That being said, plunk me down among armoire, cabinets, tapestries and other objects with historical context, add in piles of documents/bank notes and throw in some letters and you’ve got my attention for probably an eternity. That stuff is like cat nip to me and this museum not only had it in spades but its also one of the most beautiful buildings i’ve ever been in.

Almost inadvertently, I started out in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (1100-1600) section, on the ground floor 0 and spent a really peaceful hour slowly perusing the objects on display at my leisure. As you can probably tell from the photos, very few people lingered in this section- though to be fair,  few areas of the museum were really crowded, probably because it was around 1pm on a weekday when I visited. Not really having much of an idea of where I wanted to go next I decided to skip the first floor for the time being and head to the second floor, where the much lauded Night Watch is located.

I found the crowds here in the Gallery of Honor and more specifically in the Night Watch Gallery . I won’t say the Night Watch isn’t spectacular to behold in person, but it’s a bit like the Grand Canyon in the sense that no matter how magnificent it is in person, it’s been well and truly hyped up to an almost dizzying degree so that it can’t quite match up to what you have pictured in your head. The presentation though, thats unexpected and truly breathtaking.

An inside joke for friends- of course I love any depiction of Caesar getting stabbed as the final assignment in the worlds worst/best group project

I eventually finished up in this part of the museum, took a quick break on one of the many cushy benches scattered around and made my way to the 17th Century hall, passing through theThe Great Hall which I didn’t take any photos of, because honestly only video can really do justice to how amazing that hall is. Hopefully I can get around to putting together a video compilation of the trip that will include that clip but for now, just take my word on it, it’s unexpected and just that close to heavenly.

~m