The Rijksmuseum, the proud Dutch riposte to the lavish Louvre, has just been thrown open to art lovers after almost a decade-long shutdown. Under an ambitious rebuilding project worth €375m supervised by Cruz y Ortiz, the Spanish architects, its two halves are now united by an undercroft, which joins its courtyards. The extensive remodeling means only ‘Night Watch’ by Rembrandt stays in its original location out of total 8,000 objects in its more than 75 rooms. Here’s an essay on the museum’s proud legacy and new facelift:
- Each year, the Rijksmuseum creates first impressions for hundreds of thousands of people: they get a first impression of the museum as they stare a real Rembrandt ‘in the eye’ and get a taste of history. But it does not end there. In this day and age, in our quickly-changing society, that is quite an important task. The revamped museum is completely in step with the 21st century, according to its General-Director Wim Pijbes.
- The Rijksmuseum will continue to dazzle art and history lovers, develop educational programs and play a role in society. In addition to displaying the collection superbly, the Rijksmuseum will continue to undergo changes. Art and history are not merely a thing of the past and the Rijksmuseum is a modern museum - a museum where unique events take place, non-stop.
- The Rijksmuseum has been a working museum for more than 125 years. The current building, which was designed by the architect Pierre Cuypers, was opened in 1885. After more than a century of intensive use, this huge building needed a radical makeover. In the year 2000, the government of the day gave the go-ahead. After a lengthy period of preparation, work finally started in 2004. Following its refit, this internationally renowned museum is now fully compliant with the requirements of our modern age.
- The architects had the following challenge: strip the building of its later additions, ensure that it is once again a coherent whole and restore Cuypers’ clear layout. The design combines the grandeur that defines the Rijksmuseum, plus facilities such as a museum café, a shop and, to preserve the art, climate-control and security features which are completely in line with today’s requirements.