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Explore the Netherlands’ Most Iconic Museum

The Rijksmuseum is now the best-represented institution in the Google Cultural Institute

Rijksmuseum and chill. (John Lewis Marshall)
smithsonian.com

Is there anything more Dutch than Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer or the museum that houses their works, the Rijksmuseum? Amsterdam’s iconic museum has long been a must-see for art-conscious travelers to the Netherlands—after all, it is home to nearly 1,000 years of Dutch history and art. But a visit to the museum doesn’t have to involve planes or trains, anymore. Now, the entire Rijksmuseum, including hundreds of thousands of newly digitized works, is available on the Google Cultural Institute website.

The Rijksmuseum is the largest and best-represented museum contained within the institute, according to a release. Art lovers can see both the newly renovated interior of the museum and a gigantic collection of digital artifacts by exploring the museum’s site.

Six virtual exhibits, from one dedicated to Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” to one on how art historians found the location depicted in Vermeer’s “Little Street” in Delft, give an even closer look at a few of the museum’s treasures.

Joining the Google Cultural Institute is just one of a series of high-profile bids to bring visitors—in real life and virtually—to the newly renovated Rijksmuseum. In 2013, the grand reopening was celebrated with everything from flash mobs recreating “Night Watch” to a series of limited-edition artsy milk cartons.

“To pull people into the museum, you need tricks,” Wim Pijbes, the museum’s director, told  for ArtNews in 2015.

But entering the virtual fray isn’t as much a trick as a bid to build a worldwide audience—as well as sharing the museum's collection with those who can’t make it to the museum in real-life. Virtual visitors can look at artifacts by artist, medium (such as pen or engraving) as well as other categories. And traditional art isn’t the only thing the museum has to offer—lavish thrones, shipwrecked trunks and even pistols reputedly owned by Napoleon can be viewed by online art lovers.

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