As I mentioned in the first post in this series, our primary reason for being here in Amsterdam at this moment was the Vermeer exhibition running at the Rijksmuseum from February to June. We got lucky and snagged two tickets for the second wave nighttime offering that the museum kindly scheduled after the initial offering sold out. Well, tonight is the night so skipping dinner we left the hotel around 7:30 to make sure we were in the queue at our allotted 8:15 entry time.

For this trip down we took the approved route and just like the first time it took precisely 30 minutes. It was cool outside, with a stiff breeze blowing, far different than the weather earlier in the day when we visited the botanical garden and the zoo. The streets were busy with people searching out restaurants for Sunday evening dinner. Unlike Spain, dinner here doesn’t seem to start at 9:30, and no one looks askance when you seat yourself in a restaurant at 6:45.

We walked through the main gates at 8:00 and queuing area for the separate exhibition entrance was empty. Figuring “why not?” we walked up showed our tickets and were directed to the door. The Rijksmuseum has done an exceptional job of making attendance at this event simple and secure. They even sent a video via email that was narrated by “Hans” who walked us through the entry process. “Follow the dark blue line on the floor to the lockers, leave anything you want, and follow the light blue line to the start of the show.” It couldn’t be easier. One side note, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of museum lockers. In the past, I always lugged my stuff through, but for the first time, I used the very fancy lockers at the Van Gogh Museum to leave everything behind. We did the same here. It was liberating, and I’m sold for the future.

There is a nice review of the show in the February 27th issue of “The New Yorker” that you might be able to read here if interested –

The author, Rebecca Mead uses the word “bravura” and she is absolutely correct. The 27 paintings (originally 28 reduced when the Mauritshuis recalled “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”) were scattered across 10 galleries and arranged by theme and age – landscape, musical instruments, letters, religion – and the result is not only a nice trip through Vermeer’s developing style but an arrangement that allows for slow viewing and contemplation. The museum purposely keeps the number of patrons low, which also helps. Of course, there were a few annoyances, but on the whole, I was able to stand in front of every painting, take a photo, and look for as long as I liked. The galleries were dimly lit, the walls a dark matte gray and the entire atmosphere was peaceful, reflective, and above all else, as quiet as it should be. Each gallery had information about the paintings displayed on a separate wall that highlighted and explained what Vermeer was trying to accomplish at each stage in his development.

It was an exceptional experience, and we’re very grateful that we were able to attend. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We left the museum and had a late dinner on the way home.

To save you the trip, here are all 27 paintings presented in the order we viewed them, click the first image to visit enlarge the gallery –