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Rijksmuseum announces 2019 is its most successful year ever
Start Operation Night Watch. Photo Rijksmuseum.

AMSTERDAM.- As 2019 draws to a close, the Rijksmuseum today announced it has so far attracted 2.7 million visitors, the highest ever since the opening of the museum in 1885. Over 1 million of those were Netherlands-based, representing a rise in domestic visitors of 20 per cent on the previous year. The number of young visitors (Under-18) also grew to 475,000 – an increase of 100,000. These remarkable figures are largely credited to Rijksmuseum’s year-long Year of Rembrandt celebrations that include landmark exhibitions All the Rembrandts, Long Live Rembrandt and Rembrandt-Velázquez. Dutch and Spanish Masters as well as the launch of Operation Night Watch, the largest and most comprehensive research and restoration project devoted to Rembrandt’s most celebrated painting.

Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum said: “The fact that 1 million of our visitors came from our home country shows the Rijksmuseum is very much at the very heart of Dutch society. Our priority is always to make sure everyone’s visit is as enjoyable as possible. We monitor audience satisfaction on a daily basis and we’re delighted to report that the Rijksmuseum gets an average rating of 8.6 out of 10!”

2019 In numbers
• The total visit for the Rijksmuseum in 2019: 2.7 million (2018: 2.3 million)
Netherland-based visitors: 1 million (2018: 875,000)

• Young people (up to 18 years free admission): 475,000 (2018: 370,000), of which 200,000 with school (last year 190,000)

Year of Rembrandt 2019
In 2019 the Rijksmuseum presented a kaleidoscopic array of exhibitions and activities to mark the 350th anniversary of the Rembrandt’s death:

• The Rijksmuseum went on a search for all of Rembrandt’s namesakes living in the Netherlands. 150 were found, ranging in age from 11 months to 75 years old. They came together on 15 February to open the exhibition All the Rembrandts (15 February 2019 to 10 June 2019 – 455,000 visitors), presenting 22 paintings, 60 drawings and 300 of the best etchings by Rembrandt from the Rijksmuseum collection.

• Long Live Rembrandt (15 July to 15 September 2019 – 150,000 visitors). More than 8,000 people from 95 countries responded to an open call for self-made artworks. A total of 693 of artworks were selected for display in the Phillips Wing of the Rijksmuseum. They included 96 versions of The Night Watch, 132 portraits of Rembrandt and 253 artworks made by children.

• 12 x Erwin Olaf (3 July to 22 September 2019). To mark the transfer of his core collection to the Rijksmuseum, Erwin Olaf and Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits co-curated an exhibition of the photographer’s own work alongside paintings by Dutch artists in the Rijksmuseum collection.

• Rembrandt-Velázquez. Dutch and Spanish Masters (11 October 2019 to 19 January 2020 – 315,000 projected visitors) presented highlights from the oeuvres of the greatest 17th-century Dutch and Spanish Masters, including Velázquez, Rembrandt, Murillo, Vermeer, Zurbarán, Hals and Ribera. The exhibition was opened by the kings of the Netherlands and Spain.

• Night Watching. This film triptych by Rineke Dijkstra displayed in the Gallery of Honour shows 14 groups of visitors looking at The Night Watch and responding to it. The painting itself does not appear in the film.

• The Rijksmuseum published several Rembrandt-related books, ranging from Miffy x Rembrandt to Rembrandt. Biography of a Rebel.

• The official match ball for all Dutch Premier League (Eredivisie) games in the 2019-2020 season was a ‘Rembrandt ball’, designed by Irma Boom, with panels featuring etchings by the artist.

• ING was a major sponsor for the Year of Rembrandt – and helped contributing to the realisation of the Project Rembrandt television programme, the All the Rembrandts exhibition, and the Voice of Rembrandt project. More than 30 per cent of audiences for the special Rembrandt Days were first-time visitors.

Operation Night Watch
• July 2019 saw the start of Operation Night Watch, the biggest ever project devoted to the research and restoration of The Night Watch. Over the coming few years Operation Night Watch will be carried out in a glass chamber so that visitors can follow the process.

• The research team comprising 25 of the Rijksmuseum’s scientists, conservators, restorers and photographers will use the most advanced research techniques available.

• The project is being carried out in close partnership with universities and other museums, both in the Netherlands and abroad.

• Operation Night Watch is made possible in part by the Rijksmuseum’s main partner AkzoNobel and numerous private individuals and funds.

• As The Night Watch belongs to the City of Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum invited over 5,000 Amsterdam residents to visit the museum after closing hours to observer Operation Night Watch.

Over the past year a total of 200,000 young people visited the museum in an educational context, including toddlers, students taking their final exams as well as vocational and international students.

• As not all schools have the resources to visit museums, Rijksmuseum was able to offer free coach transport, with the support of the BankGiro Lottery. A total of 70,000 students took advantage of this opportunity.

• A supplementary donation from Fonds21 enabled Rijksmuseum to expand programming for students in vocational higher education.

The support of partners enabled the Rijksmuseum to make numerous acquisitions, including the following outstanding objects:

• 24 works by the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, gifted by choreographer Hans van Manen and Henk van Dijk.

• Dress by Paco Rabanne made of aluminium plates and rings, acquired with the support of Fonds Haute Couture/Rijksmuseum Fund

• The oil painting Gezicht in het dal van Ariccia by Josephus Augustus Knip, c. 1809-1812, acquired through a bequest of the Driessen legacy and the support of the Anita Nijboer Fund/Rijksmuseum Fund

• Two 16th-century panels by Maarten van Heemskerck, one depicting Samson grasping the gates of Gaza, 1555 (acquisition made possible by private donor); and the other depicting Pluto and Cerberus, 1555, gift of B.P. Haboldt in memory of Peter and Kitty Haboldt-Muttters

• Gold cup made in 1610 by the gold- and silversmith Paul van Vianen (1570-1613), on long-term loan from the Wessels family.

Special activities
For the second consecutive year the Rijksmuseum devised an escape game, with players going on a hunt through the museum that leads them to unexpected objects in the collection. A total of 10,000 people took part in this Rembrandt-themed edition. The game will be reprised by popular demand for the Christmas period. The Rijksmuseum Escape Game is supported by KPN.

• The Music in the Rijksmuseum programme was made possible by BankGiro Lottery players, and included concerts by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Willem and Joep Beving

• New tours were launched to supplement existing guided tours in sign language and for visitors with dementia. The three new tours are: a Dutch sign language video tour in the Rijks App; guided tours for blind and partially sighted visitors to all major exhibitions; and the Seniors in the Rijksmuseum programme.

• In the New Year Rijksmuseum will be running a series of sensory friendly evenings for people who need more space and calm.

Collaborations and partnerships
Throughout the year the Rijksmuseum has worked closely with museums in the Netherlands and abroad:

• In 2019, Rijksmuseum loaned a total of 1,130 objects to 137 organisations (83 in the Netherlands, and 54 abroad).

• Year of Rembrandt 2019 partners: NBTC Holland Marketing, the Fries Museum, the Mauritshuis, Rembrandt House Museum, the Rijksmuseum, Museum De Lakenhal, the Amsterdam Museum, the Jewish Cultural Quarter, Museum Prinsenhof Delft, the National Maritime Museum and Amsterdam City Archives collaborated with the cities of Amsterdam, Delft, The Hague, Dordrecht, Enkhuizen, Haarlem, Hoorn, Leiden and Middelburg

• The Rijksmuseum partnered with CSMVS Museum in Mumbai to stage India and the Netherlands in the Age of Rembrandt, an exhibition exploring the exchanges of artistic inspiration between the two countries. The opening was attended of the King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.

• This year saw the continuation of the collaboration between the Rijksmuseum and the city museums of Zutphen, Hoorn, Harlingen, Bergen op Zoom and Gouda on a travelling exhibition series titled ‘Treasures from the Rijks’ (Schatten uit het Rijks), centring on 40 paintings from the Rijksmuseum collection.

• Thanks to the renewed gift of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a donation from the Terra Foundation for American Art, international art historians and other scholars will continue to be able to participate in the Rijksmuseum Fellowship programme.

• The Rembrandt-Velazquez exhibition was staged in partnership with Prado in Madrid. To accompany the exhibition the Rijksmuseum developed a wide-ranging programme of events inside and outside the museum, with the Amsterdam Spanish Film Festival, Amsterdam Public Library (OBA) and Instituto Cervantes.

• The new Netherlands Collection Centre (CC NL) in Amersfoort is a collaboration between the Rijksmuseum, Holland Open Air Museum, Paleis Het Loo and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE). The building is approaching completion: the shell is sealed and work is being carried out on the interior while final preparations for relocation of the collections (documentation, photographing and packing) are taking place at their current homes. All the collections will be moved to Amersfoort in mid-2020, and the collection centre itself is set to open towards the end of 2020.

• In 2019 the Rijksmuseum worked with 30 sales partners who contribute a quarter of total visitor numbers.

• In 2019, the website attracted 6 million users. The online collection contains more than 400,000 freely downloadable high-resolution images. The website hosts a total of 500,000 personal collection accounts, or Rijksstudios.

• 350,000 people used the Rijks App to follow one of the digital guided tours which are available in eleven languages including Dutch Sign. The Rijks App is supported by KPN. A further 230,000 visitors used a rental device to follow one of the digital guided tours.

• The Rijksmuseum’s podcast series In het Rijks comprises 17 stories centring on the Rijksmuseum collection. It is the winner of the 2019 Grand Prix Content Marketing, and has been listened to 60,000 times.

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