Openings Museums Netherlands

Rijksmuseum reopens with fanfare and fireworks

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands leads the weekend celebrations, which include a giant key, free admission until midnight and a new light piece welcoming visitors by name

Dramatic daytime fireworks go off above the reopened Rijksmuseum, while Queen Beatrix looks on

The finishing touches were being made today, 12 April, to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum ahead of Saturday’s royal reopening. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands will lead the celebrations that are due to include a giant key, which she will turn, and a fireworks display at noon, after which everyone is invited to see the results of the decade-long, €375m modernisation. The museum is due to stay open on Saturday until midnight, and the €15 admission fee for adults will be waived. Expect a queue on the more than 100m-long orange carpet-covered catwalk that has been built for the grand opening.

Before the doors of the museum of Dutch art and history open, the Queen is due to be welcomed by a performance fit for the occasion by musicians from the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, led by the trumpet player Eric Vloeimans. They were rehearsing today, mounted on plinths and other vantage points in the museum’s magnificent new atrium. A further spectacular fanfare is due to follow, this time performed on the museum’s doorsteps, for the Queen and commoners performed by 12 heralds representing the Netherlands’ 12 provinces.

Antonio Ortiz, of Cruz y Ortiz architects, spoke with modesty about the project: “From the start we said we wanted to make a better museum, not a bigger one.” Better it undoubtably is, and much brighter, with daylight flooding the atrium designed to welcome the estimated 2 million visitors expected each year. For the opening they will be greeted by a site-specific light piece by the Dutch artist Christian Borstlap, which will spell out, high on the atrium’s walls, an A to Z of thousands of popular Dutch first names.

Update: The Rijksmuseum welcomed around 20,000 visitors on Saturday, and on Sunday, the first day when the entire museum was open to the public, there were around 13,500 visitors. Inside they found four floors of galleries that elegantly combine paintings, decorative art and artefacts in a narrative history of the Netherlands, as well as a new pavilion of Asian art tracing Holland's historic links to the Far East. Collection-based galleries ranging from arms and armour to ships models and ceramics can be found in a suite of galleries in the basement of the ornate 19th century building, the original decor of which has been carefully recreated in its great spaces.

A trumpeter from the Netherlands Wind Ensemble practices for Saturday's royal fanfare
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30 May 13
19:12 CET


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