The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is one of the world’s great museums, but it was largely closed for ten years until 2013. Planned extension and refurbishment hit a number of unexpected snags, but the new Rijksmuseum has been greeted with universal praise. Much extra space has been quarried from within the footprint of the 1885 building, and while some of the original decoration has been revealed and restored, the latest museum technology has been adopted and the artworks are beautifully lit. Paintings, sculpture, drawings, tapestries, ceramics, gold and silver – the whole gamut of fine and decorative arts are on display, often in meaningful juxtaposition.
Though the gallery has the finest collection by far of the Dutch Golden Age (the seventeenth century, the age of Rembrandt and Vermeer), it has much else besides, and significant international collections as well. There are two visits to the museum, and Amsterdam’s other main galleries and historic buildings are included as well as city centre walks through the enchanting streetscape and beside the canals.
To enlarge upon the theme, two key galleries in other towns are visited. The Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, housed in the almshouse where the eponymous artist spent his last years, provides a perfect introduction to Golden Age art, while the paintings in the Mauritshuis, also benefitting from brilliant re-display, form one of the richest small collections anywhere.
Fly at c. 12.00 midday (British Airways) from London Heathrow to Amsterdam. Haarlem was the chief artistic centre in the northern Netherlands in the 16th century and home of the first of the great masters of the Golden Age, Frans Hals, whose finest works are in the excellent small museum here. Drive to Amsterdam, where all three nights are spent
With its concentric rings of canals and 17th-century merchants’ mansions, Amsterdam is one of the loveliest capitals in the world. Our first visit to the brilliantly refurbished Rijksmuseum concentrates on Rembrandt, Vermeer and their contemporaries. In the afternoon walk to Museum Van Loon, a private residence built in 1672, and to the house where Rembrandt lived and worked for nearly 20 years. Walk back to the hotel through some of Amsterdam’s most attractive streets.
Visit the Hermitage, followed by the Royal Palace, formerly the town hall, decorated by the leading Dutch painters of the 17th century (subject to closure for royal functions). Return to the Rijksmuseum for a second visit. There is some free time to visit two other major art museums nearby which have also recently been refurbished and extended, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of modern and contemporary art.
Opened in June 2014 after long closure for refurbishment, the Mauritshuis at The Hague ‘looks set to become northern Europe’s most alluring small museum’ (Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times). The superb collection of paintings includes masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer. Visit also the illusionistic Mesdag panorama before driving to the airport. Fly from Amsterdam and return to London Heathrow at c. 4.30pm in 2019, and c. 6.00pm in 2020.
We sometimes change the visits on this itinerary to take advantage of temporary exhibitions.
For those combining with Music along the Rhine in 2020
The coach continues to the ship (MS Imperial), moored in Amsterdam. Check in and settle in to your cabin before a late-afternoon concert then dinner.
Day 11, 7th July. After the festival, fly from Basel to London Heathrow, arriving at c. 1.00pm (Festival flight option 1).
Dr Guus Sluiter
Art historian and Director of the Dutch Funeral Museum in Amsterdam. He has worked in a number of other museums in the Netherlands including the Mauritshuis in The Hague and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. He is a board member of the Foundation of Amsterdam Museums and Research Fellow of the Dutch Institute for Art History in Florence. He has published widely in the Netherlands and Italy.
Price – per person
Two sharing: £1,920 or £1,790 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,150 or £2,020 without flights.
Flights (Euro Traveller) with British Airways (Airbus 320); hotel accommodation; travel by private coach; breakfasts and 3 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer.
Hotel Estheréa, Amsterdam, a centrally located 4-star hotel in a historic building with colourful, comfortable rooms. Single rooms are doubles for sole use.
Unavoidably, there is a lot of walking on this tour. Vehicular access is increasingly restricted and while coaches are used on some occasions, otherwise the city is traversed on foot. There is a lot of standing in museums. A good level of fitness is necessary. It should not be attempted by anyone who has difficulty with everyday walking and stair-climbing. Average distance by coach per day: 23 miles.
Between 10 and 20 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
'This was a well planned and carefully paced tour.'
'Both the lecturer and tour manager were extremely good and excellent company.'
'Martin Randall at it’s best. Every aspect of this tour was excellent.'
'A well thought through itinerary, bringing together a coherent and detailed picture through art, architecture and personal histories of painters, patrons and people of Amsterdam during the Golden Age.'