Architecture love in Amsterdam: The Atrium at Rijksmuseum

I just spent a brilliant weekend with friends in Amsterdam, which meant a lot of strolling around, having wine with our feet dangling over the canals and randomly driving the boat over the river.

On our last day we felt like we had to do SOMETHING, that is not directly connected to food or laying in the sun, so we decided to check out the renovated Rijksmuseum.

I had read about the new design all over the internet, so I forced my not-really-that-interested-in-design friends to join me.

 I have one big problem with museums: Having the attention span of a bunny (yes, this is a clinically recognized illness), I enjoy walking through the exhibition for about ten minutes and then I'm over it. But what I wanted to see was right there in the entrance hall:

The two massive chandeliers in the two parts of the atrium.

Repeating the structural lines of the building, it closes the space towards the ceiling but still leaves enough space for the light to come through.


Combined with a new glass roof and a shiny stone covered-floor, the space is filled with light.

The floor is lowered towards the middle, creating an underground passageway between the two parts of the rooms.

I thought this was a nice design feature until I read about the reasons for it on the Telegraph:

In the old design, a rib vaulted passageway divided the space. The first plans by Cruz y Ortis architectos included this space into the main room, which would have made it inaccessible for the public.

In many other countries that might wouldn't have been a big deal, but in the Netherlands you really don't want to mess with the bike – lobby.

So in the end the architects had to lower the floor to create an underground passageway between the two rooms and to keep the street level accessible for bikes.

That's actually my favourite part of this building, this weird and oh-so-holland story behind it. And hey – good design has to work for the people living with it, right?


And the best part:

you don't even have to actually go into the museum to see the atrium.


Visiting the Rijksmuseum is the perfect activity for a rainy day in Amsterdam, but if you're only there for the architecture, the atrium might be enough for you.



Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam

How to get there:

Tram 2 or 5 to "Rijksmuseum"

How much:

the atrium is free!

17,50€ for the exhibition