Amsterdam - A Day at the Rijksmuseum

On the way to the Museumplein, Amsterdam's museum campus where you can find the Rijksmuseum. as well as the Stedelijk and Van Gogh Museums.

There are lots of reasons to visit Amsterdam and I chose probably the nerdiest one-- the art. There dozens of world class museums within the compact city and most of them are covered by the Museumkaart, Amsterdam's Museum Card. I bought my pass at the big one - The Rijksmuseum, the first stop on my self-directed museum crawl. I spent a good four or five hours exploring the museum before taking a late lunch and continuing on to the Stedelijk and Van Gogh museums.

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum is a must see attraction in a city full of excellent museums.
You can bike right through the Rijksmuseum, one of several big museums on Amsterdam's Museumplein, or Museum Square,
I had been eager to tour Amsterdam ever since I took a course on Netherlandish Art for my Art History Major. I focused my Rijksmuseum visit on the 17th century Dutch Golden Age collection where many of the paintings I once studied are held. Including priceless masterpieces by Vermeer and Rembrandt like 'The Night Watch,' one of the most famous paintings in the world. It draws quite the crowd (I preferred the Vermeers, which are almost like miniatures in comparison.) I also made sure to track down the gorgeous Cuypers Library. You can't browse the stacks or study without prior permission, but the view from the balcony on the 2nd floor is a pretty great consolation. Another highlight was the gallery of beautiful and intricate Doll Houses.

Do not miss the stunning Cuypers Library.
The marriage of William II, Prince of Orange, age 14 and his bride, Mary Stuart, just nine years old.

I love to visit museums when I travel solo. I can really take my time viewing the art, without worrying about keeping pace with a companion. And if I want to skip a piece, or even a whole wing of a museum, it's totally cool. Though traveling alone can be stressful, especially when things go wrong, at museums I never feel self conscious when I'm on my own. I really appreciate it when cities offer passes that make it easy to visit multiple museums or attractions. But they're an investment. You really have to do your homework to make sure the pass covers the right length of time and attractions you actually want to visit. I chose the Museumkart, but Amsterdam also offers the Iamsterdam city pass which includes public transportation and a canal boat ride, but not quite enough museums for my liking (no Rijksmuseum or Anne Frank House.)

For me, the math on the Museumkaart just made sense. Because I was spending a week in Amsterdam, I made a list of the museums I wanted to visit and researched their admission prices. Once I added the entrance fees up, I knew the €65 Museumkaart would be more than worth it. I would have spent €106 if I had bought each ticket individually. The card also encouraged me to visit smaller, less well known churches and museums like Oude Kerk (The Old Church,) Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Dear Lord in the Attic Museum,) Museum Van Loon, and FOAM Photography Museum. The Museumkaart is geared towards Dutch residents so there's no English website, but I found the Amsterdam.info site to be a great resource for information about the card. It's good for a full month and gets you into museums all over Holland, nice if you're touring outside of just Amsterdam. The card must be purchased in person at one of the participating museums. If you're an art lover, history fanatic, or just spending an extended period of time in Amsterdam, then the card is an excellent value.

Copying the masters
Art and artifacts on display in the 17th Century Gallery of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum.
The Night Watch Gallery will be busy no matter what time you visit the Rijksmuseum.
Fishing for Souls by Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, 1614
The Great Hall, or Voorhal, connects wings of the Rijksmuseum.
A book lover's dream - the Cuypers Library at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
After viewing Rembrandt's massive "Night Watch,"  Vermeer's intricate, intimate interior paintings feel downright miniature.
A foggy day in Amsterdam, perfect for a visit to one of the city's many world class museums.
The Iamsterdam sign at the Rijksmuseum has become an iconic image of from the city.

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