Rijksmuseum rīks´myo͞ozē˝əm [key], Dutch national museum in Amsterdam, founded in 1808 by Louis Bonaparte, king of Holland (see under Bonaparte), as the Great Royal Museum in the Royal Palace. In the same year, 225 paintings from the National Museum in The Hague (est. 1798) were added to the collection, and the city of Amsterdam contributed seven paintings, including Rembrandt's Company of Capt. Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch (1642; popularly known as The Night Watch) and Syndics of the Drapers' Guild (1662). In 1815 the museum was named the Rijksmuseum [=state museum] and housed (1817–85) in the Trippenhuis, a 17th-century mansion. The present building, a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles designed by P. J. H. Cuypers, was opened in 1885 to accommodate the fast-growing collection. The collection of the Netherlands Museum of History and Art from The Hague, housed in the same building and opened two years later, was soon absorbed by the Rijksmuseum as its Dutch history, sculpture, and applied arts divisions.

The Rijksmuseum is famous for its outstanding collection of Dutch paintings and drawings from the 15th to the 19th cent., with particular emphasis on masterworks of the 17th cent. Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Vermeer, Ruisdael, Jan Steen, the Dutch primitives, and many others are well represented. Many paintings done after 1850 have been transferred on loan to the Stedelijk Museum. Most of the galleries explore the history of Dutch art from the Middle Ages to the 20th cent. by exhibiting together paintings, sculpture, tapestries, and other artifacts from the same period. The building's highlight is the Gallery of Honor, a colonnaded space that features Rembrandt's Night Watch and other masterpieces of Dutch art. The Rijksmuseum also has a small group of paintings by other European masters and a fine collection of Asian art. From 2003 to 2013 the museum was closed during a $500 million renovation. Spanish architects Cruz y Ortiz revived Cuypers's original design, adding a soaring, light-filled atrium. The museum's name also sometimes occurs as Rijks Museum and Ryks Museum.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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