Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum


We made time for the two biggest museums in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. Both are incredibly popular but contain famous artworks that make the crowds worth braving.


The Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands national art museum. The current building was designed in 1885 by architect Pierre Cuypers who also designed the Amsterdam Centraal train station. The museum was heavily restored in 2013 and still contains a bike lane “tunnel” that cuts right through the heart of it.

Night Watch crowds

The most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum is Rembrandt’s Night Watch, more formally known as Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. Only a few days after we saw it the painting was removed for restoration.

Night Watch

Nearby was the selection of Vermeer paintings, which were equally popular.

The Vermeers

The Rijskmuseum seems to be one of the few major museums that still allows photos. As much as we like to be able to snap a few to document our experience, it does cause a lot of congestion when people insist on fighting their way to the front to film or video every single painting in turn, holding up their phones to block every else’s view.

Rijksmuseum Lobby art

The Rijksmuseum also contains a beautiful research library with a reading room. Tourists are allowed to peer down from a high balcony at those hard at work below.

The Van Gogh Museum does not allow photos, though the rule seemed to be enforced sporadically. They do provide a “selfie wall” in the lobby that rotates famous Van Gogh Artworks, so we attempted to make use of it, with mixed results.

Van Gogh Selfie Wall

Inside the galleries themselves — which are entirely dedicated to Van Gogh and originally populated by paintings inherited by his brother Theo — we saw some of Van Gogh’s most well-known works, including the Bedroom in Arles, his most famous Sunflowers variant, and the Yellow House. One day we hope to visit Arles, France to see some of those locales in person.