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The Airport Rijksmuseum: Best Layover Ever

Lay-overs can be excruciating.  The anticipation of arriving at a new destination or finally getting home makes it hard to keep reading your “airplane book” on the ground.  You can only browse the duty free stores for so long.  And really, how many laps can you walk through the terminal before that starts to get old?  For the art lover or curious traveler, salvation from airport lay-over boredom can be found at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport which contains a mini Rijksmuseum!  It’s actually worth planning to have a lay-over in Amsterdam just to check it out!

viewing Rijksmuseum, SChiphol aiport amsterdam

There is always time to fit in a little more art when you travel! Travelers visit the mini Rijksmuseum at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum Schiphol Airport is located inside security between Departure Areas 2 and 3.  This stretch is known as “Holland Boulevard” and is cheerfully decorated with tulips, bicycle motifs, and blue and white Delft pottery designs.  This small museum opened in 2002 and gives visitors to Amsterdam and transit passengers a chance to see a little more fantastic Dutch art before heading on their way.

small Rijksmuseum, Schiphol airport Amsterdam

Museum entrance along Holland Boulevard (and the first time I’ve seen an official “Museum” airport sign!)

The small gallery run by the Rijksmuseum has been so well constructed you don’t realize you are in an airport.  Visitors take a set of stairs (or an elevator) up to the second floor space placing you well above the noise of rolling luggage.  Shaded windows and the low light on the artwork creates a cozy, intimate environment canceling out the chaos of this major international airport.

small Rijksmuseum, Schiphol airport Amsterdam

The enclosed gallery space on the second level.

There is only enough wall space for about 20 pieces, but the selection and curation of the paintings are impeccable.  When I visited, the theme of the current exhibit was “Dutch People, Dutch Landscapes”.  Portraits of people from all social classes and a variety of time periods contrasted interestingly with each other.  An young man of the Enlightenment with his mechanical model hung beside a 19th century mother and child.  A dark, plain portrait of a religious man was placed next to a noble gentleman in gleaming armor decorated with military honors.

Works on display in the mini Rijksmuseum, Schiphol airport Amsterdam

Works on display in the mini Rijksmuseum, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

The landscapes on display were beautiful and classically Dutch in their detail and liveliness.  They included port scenes, countryside vistas, and locals gathered around quaint urban houses.  It was a very strong and diverse collection which worked perfectly in the small gallery.

small Rijksmuseum, Schiphol airport Amsterdam

Even cowboys like the airport Rijksmuseum

There is also a Rijksmuseum Shop underneath the airport gallery just in case you forgot to pick up enough souvenirs and gifts.  Right next to the mini Rijksmuseum is a permanent Airport Library.  Here you can find a large collection of art books which are great to page through regardless of the language in which they are printed.

Multilingual library next to the museum

Multilingual library next to the museum

The mini Rijksmuseum at Schiphol Amsterdam airport is free and open from 7:00 – 20:00.  Given that, it looks like you have your next lay-over covered!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. I completely agree. I was laid over here for 10 hours once (argh), and I couldn’t believe my luck in finding Dutch Masters! Great post.


    June 16, 2014
    • Thanks! I see a lot of long layovers in Amsterdam if you are coming from North America too. My last layover was 13hrs which was enough time to see the real Rijksmuseum (then nap in the KLM Lounge!) and still have time for the mini-museum. It is so wonderful to see art in an airport. More places should do this!


      June 17, 2014
  2. I’ve never heard of this! Amsterdam is usually my destination, so I never explored the airport beyond what I absolutely had to, but good to know for future reference.


    November 27, 2015

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