Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Tuesday 30 Jul 2013


The restored and renewed Rijksmuseum, by Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos, opened earlier this year to boast collections of over 8,000 historical objects and art for two million anticipated visitors to the Amsterdam museum each year.

The renovation, awarded to Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos in 2001, took the historic 19th century building and accentuated the interior detailing, with a modern approach to the vast original space.

One of the major benefits for the original building, so tangible after this renovation, is the full revelation of the original architectural scheme and its main features such as the symmetry, the vaults, the columns and the day light in the upper exhibition areas. Subsequently all formerly placed preset walls, box-in-boxes and false ceilings were to be removed, together with its obsolete installation units behind. For the latter, new allocations had to be found in order to make the building adequate for both art objects and visitors.

On entering the museum, the visitor is led through courtyards where the designers describe an atmosphere of “solemnity, quietness and symmetry are present, embraced by the adjacent centuries’ old”. The physical and visual interruption of the peculiar ‘bicycles’ passage’ was overcome by a gentle slope of the square underneath it, enabling to connect the east and the west wing.

With this intervention one of the biggest logistical bottlenecks of the past century has been resolved, offering the Rijksmuseum a great public space for multiple uses - all under one roof. These atria, connected by the transitory passage, give access to the collections and to multiple new uses in and around the courtyard square itself.

Behind the mute courtyard’s facades, the collections are housed. Big ceremonial entrance porches give generous access way to the ‘Treasury room of the Netherlands.’ Therefore the existing Cuypers’ building has been made fully public accessible, even revealing the formerly secluded staff areas in the low vaulted basements for public use and the higher attic areas. The severely damaged casco is liberated after all dismantling preset walls, false ceilings, box-in-boxes and installation components. Its main exhibition level will house the masters of the Golden Age, all illuminated by dosed day light, falling down from the newly renovated sky lights.

The co-existence of these richly decorated Front Hall and Gallery of Honour, the dim exhibition areas of the golden age, against the ceremonial, bright atria are both forming a big asset for the Rijksmuseum in the development of all kind of events in multiple atmospheres, promising a long-lasting future

Cruz y Ortiz Arquitectos