I’ve been to the Rijks on three occasions – once before the decade-long renovations, once during, and once after and I can honestly say what they’ve done is quite remarkable. The Rijksmuseum thoroughly deserves its reputation as one of the top museums in the world. It’s a stunning place and even if you’ve been before make sure you visit again and discover more of its wonders.
This time, we took the kids for the first time. The Rijks have created an astonishingly brilliant app (great for adults as well as kids). Download it in advance or get hold of devices and headphones for 5 euros at the multimedia desk. If you’re with kids, load up the interactive treasure hunt or “Family Quest” and work together in a team of 2-4 players to complete the puzzle for a reward. The hunt takes you, of course, via the NightWatch and the Vermeers but also into the depths of the museum to see curios and objets d’art. We absolutely loved the experience and the boys were completely engaged for an hour or more.
Ingeniously, if you have the app installed you can also simply type in the three digit number by provided on placards around the museum and you’ll be provided with rich multimedia content about more than 200 artworks.
We visited on a Monday morning in October. Make sure you book tickets in advance – they are valid for entry any day and any time so they give great flexibility. We found that by showing up just after opening time (albeit in Autumn) there were surprisingly no queues and we managed to get right in front of some of the museum’s most prized paintings with ease. Needless to say, midday in August it is almost certainly a different story!
The cafe too is absolutely worth a visit, and there is also a very upmarket restaurant with a fantastic reputation for fine dining.
Perhaps because we were so spoiled at the Rijks, the Van Gogh felt just that little bit less mind-blowing. Again, make sure you book in advance (this time you have to commit not just to a day but also a time slot) or be prepared to queue. Even with a booking this is real possibility. The kids’ treasure hunt is fun but more challenging and though there are some extraordinary paintings, the layout, light and use of space struggles to compete with its older and grander neighbour.