Visitors can once again see Rembrandt’s "The Night Watch" in all its glory following the reopening of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Queen Beatrix has reopened her country’s national museum after a 10-year renovation.
Thousands cheered outside the Rijksmuseum on Saturday as Queen Beatrix officially declared the Netherland’s most-famous museum to be reopened. The move comes after a decade-long, 375 million euro ($480 million) renovation.
Fireworks marked the occasion, which saw the 75-year-old Queen Beatrix in one of her final official appearances before abdicating the throne to her son Willem-Alexander at the end of the month. The queen turned a golden key, opening the building to the cheering crowds.
Masters on display
The Rijksmuseum is home to works by Dutch masters Jan Steen, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn, among many others.
Rembrandt’s "The Night Watch," widely viewed as the artist’s greatest work, is the only of the museum’s 8,000 works to be returned to its original display position. The canvas depicts an Amsterdam civic guard setting off on a march. It is approached along a Gallery of Honor, which also features works such as Vermeer's "Woman Reading a Letter" and "The Merry Drinker" by Frans Hals.
Other of the museum’s prize possessions have been displayed in new sites under the new layout, with related paintings, furniture, silver and ceramics arranged in close proximity to each other.
A long wait
The renovation work took longer than expected and ended up costing more than originally estimated, with designers having to incorporate an existing bike path into their design. They also had to ensure that spaces below sea level in the museum would not flood.
The Rijksmuseum was originally built in 1885 and hosted 200,000 visitors annually. Prior to the renovation, one million visitors walked the museum’s halls each year. Following the reopening, museum administrators hope to double that to two million.
As many as 30,000 visitors were expected on Saturday alone, with the museum offering free entrance all day to mark the occasion.
tm/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)