Opening of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Flemish masterpieces of art prefer Goppion

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, boasting the largest collection of Flemish art in the world, will re-open to the public on 13th April in the wake of a ten-year refurbishment that has completely renewed, indeed, “re-invented” the museum.

The architectural project of the new Rijksmuseum, by Cruz y Ortiz of Seville, is marked by a purity of style and a respect for the original features of Pierre Cuypers’ neo-gothic building. The new project’s design also safeguards the relationship the museum has established with the city over the years, by providing a monumental civic space – the central corridor - that has even been used in the past for cycle races.

The museographical project bears the prestigious signature of Jean-Michel Wilmotte and combines the 19th-century grandeur of the original building with the latest design and technological requirements of the modern museum.

The layout of the museum unfolds through 80 rooms, displaying 8000 of the most varied works – paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, silverware, ceramics, furniture, jewellery, costume – toillustrate the artistic production and history of the Low Countries within an international context. The Dutch are renowned traders and travellers and the Netherlands has been a European crossroads for centuries. Thus more than 30 rooms have been dedicated to the Golden Century, when the young mercantile republic led the world in trade, the sciences, military accomplishment and the arts.

Working to incorporate and make manifest Wilmotte’s design style, Goppion has produced the entire range of exhibition display elements: over 300 pieces differing in function, form and size that render this project an example of engineering in the service of a design vision.
Based on an essential, almost “minimalist” style, the 230 display cases created by Goppion as central floor or wall units, incorporate reflection-free, almost invisible glass.

The extremely technical, but at the same time fundamental engineering solutions, addressed and resolved the challenges presented by the large dimensions of the cases, each of which could exceed 4 m in height, and the variety of forms. One spectacular result is a circular case enclosing a4-metre-high column with shelves that simulate the branches of a tree, on which perch precious ceramic birds. 

Once again, success has been achieved by the excellence of the collaborative process that developed between the Italian and museum teams. Despite the great pressure and public attention to the museum’s transformation, the result of its ten year closure, the Rijksmuseum reemerges triumphantly.

Opening of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam