Rijksmuseum Library

Amsterdam, Netherlands | C.1885

Photo Credit: Adriana M. Freitas

The Rijksmuseum Research Library is the largest public art history research library in the Netherlands. It is a division of the Rijksmuseum, a Dutch national museum, located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South.

Think of the Research Library as Rijksmuseum’s checks and balances system. With over 8,000 objects on display in the museum proper, the Library’s mission is a high standard of art conservation, filling in gaps of the collections to ensure a full breadth of easily-accessible knowledge. But the real golden standard of excellence is the Library itself.

Designed by Pierre Cuypers and first opened in 1885, the Research Library was constructed in Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles. From shelf to staircase, the Library is adorned in decorative details that still make their presence known in such features as the iron railings and staircase.

There are over 500,000 volumes in the library’s collection, among the most famous are masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. Library staff actively use their archives for art history research, while guests explore the volumes on hand. And the library continues to grow with about 10,000 new titles are added each year.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to the library in person. As the collection continues to boom, more and more of the resources are being made public through the not-so-Renaissance-or-Gothic medium of the internet.

It is no wonder Rijksmuseum is the most visited museum in the Netherlands with close to 3 million visitors each year. A new reading room was recently constructed for inquisitive minds who love sitting in a room surrounded by towering bookshelves on all sides.

:memo: Written by: Sam Jacobson

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