A Day at the Museum

The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam opened it's doors earlier this year, after a restoration that has lasted over ten years. Im not getting into details about that (ai... politics!) other then to say; 'it was about time!' Circumstances and trying to avoid the first swarm of people kept me from going to visit too soon. But yesterday i decided the day had arrived! Finally i could go back, and get reacquainted with my old stumping ground. A place where i'd spend many many days on end as a child and teenager.

The restoration teams had reinstated the central welcoming hall, leading up to the Gallery of Honor. That gallery houses the most famous of the 17th Century paintings including the Nachtwacht by Rembrandt van Rijn. I understand it was the fashion in the 70's and 80's, but can you imagine such grand space being hidden under white latex??? Glad it has been brought back to live!

Finding our way around the new layout was rather easy and with time periods as guide in the set up. Only trouble was crossing the ground level entrance hall a few times, making us show our tickets to get back into the museum itself. Other than that is was breath taking and the new idea's about setting of unique pieces of art has paid of well. Take for instance this dark blue back ground on the wall. Not something you would think of initially, no? 

All in all the number of artifacts, paintings and furniture on display was kept rather conservative (not really but in relation to the old days) but that worked fine as well. I remember the old museum as rather cramped and all the same pieces were put together, regardless of age or style sometimes. Representing a certain era through all the different media (furniture, ceramics, paintings etc.) as they have done now, with the new layout worked far better (imho).

They'd also opened up the library and it was just as impressive!

Of course special interest was there for the dolls houses on display. Petronella Oortmans's  and Petronella Dunois's. 

One of the most stunning pieces of the day -for me- was this barometer, with a case made by Nicolas Lanckamp (1709) The carving on it was sublime and very intricate. 

Another one was this skull made of boxwood (Albert Janz Vinckenbrinck, 1650) It's only an inch high (?) yet the detailing again... was jaw dropping.

Of course i had interest in this X-chair too. I was familiar with the different technique to fold this type of chair but it was really nice to see it for real (don't tell but i've crawled underneath to get pics :))

Many more items of stunning quality and very inspiring to see and study. 

In the Middle Ages section i'd run into these two little chests. Originally from the 1500's, only recently I'd made one in a class with Bill Robertson. Just like Josje and Elga have posted about them. It's really nice to see where the prototype that Bill had made derived from. I do believe his one was modeled after a chest from Boston (?) but non the less, museum pieces can be such an inspiration to make replica's of in miniature :)

But the best of the day was saved till last. Also in the basement of the museum that's dedicated to the middle ages.  Not only were there these little ivory chest, I also stumbled into two artifacts i'd known about for quite some time and hoped i would see on display & for real; spherical & carved types of gaud also known as rosary bead or prayer nut.

I do have to apologize for the poor quality of the latest pictures. Unfortunately the battery of my camera had died halfway through my visit. I'd taken so many pics already... :) That lead me to divert to my phone. It's a great phone and takes wonderful pictures but the circumstances here were really challenging; dark, behind glass and very tiny, so please accept my apology. I've added links to see them better.

This tiny boxwood ball was incredibly finely carved. It's called a 'prayer nut', intended to be hung from the belt or a rosary, and was meant as an aid to prayer. In my studies i'd already read lots about them and found a cool little video that the Art GAllery of Ontario had put up. They've done intensive research on a different one by the same maker; Adam Theodrici, or also called Adam Dirckz.

There was another one from his hand on display. Many of the great museums around the world seem to have examples of these tiny devotion attributes. Miniaturizing was popular in those days and fortunately many have survived the more 500 years that lay between back when they were made and today.

I could do a complete post about these beads, let me just say that they were the high light of my visit to the Rijks Museum. But the museum is packed with many many more great pieces of art that deserve more attention, so I'll definitely go back soon!


  1. Hello Debora,
    thank you for the wonderful pictures. It looks like a wonderful building full of incredible art. the dollhouse is wonderful and every other piece was just beautiful.
    Big hug,

  2. Hallo Debora,
    Prachtige fotoos, mooie rondleiding en stukken om van te kwijlen zo mooi. Moet er toch ook eens langsgaan.
    Bedankt voor het posten!

  3. Goodness, Debora. So many wonderful things to look at! Far too much for one visit! If I had to pick a favourite it would be the collection of locks - fascinating.
    I think the blue background was fashionable for Dutch paintings many years ago? The Wallace Collection recently renovated a gallery in a similar toned blue silk stripe fabric. I think it looks lovely, probably more so because, like you say, it's not your first choice of colour.
    Thanks for sharing all the wonderful pictures, I'll check out the film now...
    Best wishes

  4. Amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing. ;)

  5. Merci pour les magnifiques photos et pour les explications très instructives!

  6. Oh my, I think I could spend an entire week in the Rijksmuseum! Do I envy you, getting to see two priceless dollhouses up close...

  7. So many beautiful objects to see! I haven't seen them all yet, even though it's not a huge museum and I've been three times already... I must go back soon! I think it is so wonderful that you're allowed to take photographs everywhere. Which we all do then of course!
    You're picture of the scull is exactly the same as the one I took, I also thought it was wonderful! And the prayer nuts are just fantastic. The one I saw at the Met in NY always stayed in my memory as one of the pieces I liked most. Thanks for sharing the video, I love seeing things like that.
    The locks are high on my agenda for my next visit. I saw them in passing when I was on my way out. They are fascinating, little works of art! And as for the ivory chests, well I quite like these as well ;-) Those locks look wonderful with all the decorations. And those feet! Maybe a little wax carving...

  8. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing your day at this incredible museum. The pieces are stunning and I loved seeing the miniatures ---

  9. In general; glad you all like the pics. I have to say, i took almost 400, so these are just a tiny fraction.... i wish i could post them all :) But i'm considerate here, just thought i'd share the joy of visiting the museum :) And yes Josje, it's a great facility they let you take pictures, so many exhibits won't allow it... And it is so great to go back through them and be inspired :)
    By the way, i did buy the book on Decorative Antique Ironwork; talking about studying fascinating locks. It's a wonderful reference book, i highly recommend it.

  10. This is a wonderful museum. I can go there again and again so while I am not able to, I shall visit your post :) Thank you for sharing!

  11. I can't wait to see your museum in person! Thanks for the inspiring post.


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