The Rijks Museum is the largest one in the Netherlands. Rijks Museum, which is one of the most impressive museums both as an exhibition area and as a collection, is one of the must-see places when you go to Amsterdam. Although the museum’s collection includes pieces from all over the world, it mainly focuses on Dutch art. We can call the Rijks Museum a paradise for those who have a particular interest in painting, especially in Dutch art.
The impressive works of great masters of the Northern Renaissance period, also known as the Golden Age of the Netherlands, are exhibited today in the Rijks Museum. The museum’s collection is vast, but with the renovations, they have created a clear plan. Moreover, they arranged more than eighty galleries in the museum in chronological order, with very few examples in the world. In other words, taking a tour of the 8000 artifacts collection of the Rijks Museum is like looking at world history from a distance. So how could such a complex task be achieved?
Rijksmuseum as a Restoration Success
Those who follow the art world closely will remember it, but it is worth mentioning for those who do not know. The Rijks Museum, as we know it today, opened in 2013. So the modern museum building is not very old. However, the building itself is quite old, and people have used it as a museum for many years. Rijks’ silence for many years is that it has been under restoration for ten years. The museum underwent a comprehensive restoration in 2003. In this work carried out with an international team, they added some buildings to the museum. The original structure was changed as little as possible to reach today’s spacious exhibition areas.
The Rijks Museum building was originally built in the late 1800s by architect Pierre Cuypers. In the project selected as a result of the competition, Cuypers followed an approach combining Gothic and Renaissance trends. Besides, there were many ornaments and sculptures specific to Dutch art in the building. By the mid-1900s, people added two more galleries to the building.
The Spanish company Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos, which undertook the restoration project in 2003, preferred to return to the scheme’s Cuypers’ designs. Turning towards a clear, easy-to-understand, and straightforward plan, the company has turned the inner courtyard into an atrium. It removed later additions.
The atrium was created by dividing the inner courtyard, which stands as a single space in the middle, into different levels. Accordingly, they moved part of the yard to the lower level. The atrium’s top was covered with a glass roof, allowing natural light to enter the interior; thus, you can feel the spaciousness. Today, the atrium is where the building’s modern needs are solved simultaneously as its dining areas and store. It is also the point where they opened the Rijks Museum to the public. Anyone can enter the Atrium with or without a ticket.
Visitors can watch the surroundings without disconnecting from the environment thanks to the glass walls that separate it from the main building and the road.
You can see the original style of the structure inside. The French architect Jean Michel Wilmotte worked intensively inside the Rijks Museum, under the restorer architect Van Hoogevest.
Wilmotte was again loyal to Cuypers while working on the interior design of the Rijks Museum. He examined Cuypers’ use of color and created the museum’s color palette at the end of this review. However, when it comes to settlement, the whole order in the Rijks Museum has changed completely. Except for the gallery where Rembrandt’s masterpiece Night Patrol is located, all works’ location has changed.
Since the building has been used as a museum since its construction, it was unnecessary to make profound structural changes. However, it is still a task that requires time and detailed work to adapt a building from the 1800s to today’s conditions. It is this precise teamwork that makes the Rijks Museum such a successful restoration example.
A New Rijks Museum With Additional Buildings and
During the ten-year restoration period of the Rijks Museum, the architects did not only study the main structure. In this process, they added a new Asian Pavilion to the entrance. Many works that entered the country due to the Netherlands’ trade with Asian countries during the Renaissance period are still here.
Apart from the triplex main building, Teekenschool (School of Drawing), which operates under the museum, has also been renovated. This school is an innovative learning center that supports museum activities with its modern studios.
Apart from these, there is a Workshop Building in the museum building group. With its zigzag-looking façade, sloping walls, and triangular windows, the building is reserved for maintenance, repair, and restoration works of artwork. The reason for using such inclined angles on its facade is to break sunlight. None of the windows in the building get direct sunlight inside. Also, the building only receives the northern light.
Functionality stands out in the interior arrangement of the building. The priority in all building elements is to facilitate the transition of large-sized artworks.
There is a plan to add landscapes such as a pond, playground, and greenhouse to this building group.