We ended up arriving in Amsterdam in the middle of the afternoon yesterday.  By the time we were ready to leave our hotel most of the attractions were closed.  The one site that was open late was The Anne Frank House, so we thought we would head over there and see if we could get in.  As we approached the site, we could see a line, maybe 200 meters long of people waiting to get in, so we went for a walk and had dinner instead.

We’ve been to The Anne Frank House before, so this was a “nice to do”, otherwise, I would hate to have to wait for hours just to get in.  So we got back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Today we hit the “big 3” art museums – The Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijk Museum.

Kelly in front of Amsterdam’s huge Rijksmuseum.

The Van Gogh Museum has a singular focus on the artist, but includes some works by other painters who influenced him.  In addition to the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings, the museum also has drawings, artifacts, and correspondence that belonged to the artist displayed in excellent fashion.  For instance, as was common with starving artists of the time, Van Gogh often reused his canvases, and so in places the pictures are mounted so that you can view them from both sides.

Van Gogh Museum
Exterior architecture of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum

This is a very popular museum, so one often finds oneself jockeying to get a decent view of the articles on display.  The space has been significantly upgraded since we were last here about twenty years ago.  Despite the crowds, it was an enjoyable experience.  Unfortunately photography is not permitted inside the museum (try telling that to some of the patrons!), so here are some internet images instead.

The Bedroom
Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, 1888

One of my favorite pieces in the Museum was The Bedroom.  This is a piece I have seen elsewhere (the Art Institute of Chicago has his second version and the Musee D’Orsay in Paris has the third version).  The Van Gogh Museum first version was restored and the colors are incredibly vibrant.  As with some of the other images around the museum, there is a computer display allowing an in depth look at the image and in this case, comparing it to the other versions.  Very cool.

The Gallery of Honor at the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is a BIG building and one of the world’s major art museums. It recently underwent a $500 million update and is in tip top condition.  The showcase is The Gallery of Honor that includes works from all the key Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Steen.  It culminates in “The Night Watch” considered the pinnacle of Rembrandt’s achievements.  Beyond the artwork, the room itself is magnificent with high ceilings and sumptuous decorations.

Rembrandt’s 1642 NightWatch.

However, the Rijksmuseum is much more than The Gallery of Honor and the various galleries are packed with some of the best art (especially Dutch art), furniture and objets d’arts in the world and covers pretty much the entire history of art from pre-medieval to contemporary, although the greatest part of the collection is from the Dutch “Golden Age” in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Screaming Child Stung by a Bee
Screaming Child, Stung by a Bee. Attributed to Hendrik de Keyser, 1615, based on an allegory about Cupid.

The Stedelijk is Amsterdam’s modern art museum and started out a bit disappointingly.  The first few galleries we viewed were full of concept pieces that don’t really appeal to either of us. However, eventually we reached Dutch art from the early 20th century such as works by Mondrian that were much more to our liking.

Amsterdam canal
A houseboat on one of Amsterdam’s canal’s supports a Mondrian inspired paintjob.

Suffice is to say that our fitness trackers logged a lot of steps today!

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