The Trapdoor at the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum designed by Cuypers was built as a “gate” to Amsterdam, as it stands just outside the line of the 18th Century city walls. It balances the Central Station, at the other end of the city, and also designed by Cuypers. It houses some of the most important artifacts of Dutch history and the famous of Dutch art, including the Night Watch. Here’s a view of it showing the gate structure at its centre, the Night Watch is displayed directly over the arch.nt_rijksmuseum2

The Night Watch went back into it’s former position when the Rijksmuseum was re-opened  – one of the few works not to be moved.

It’s considered the most famous painting by Dutch people, it has such cultural significance that it has its own escape hatch at the museum. A guide told me that there’s a trap door just in front of the painting, and the painting can be dropped to safety. The black section here is apparently the outside part of the trapdoor.

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The trapdoor wasn’t installed for the renovation though, it was installed in the early 1930’s, and used in 1939 to removed the Night Watch before the art-acquisitive Nazis arrived. The painting spent the war in hiding, as did a number of artworks from the Rijksmuseum. The museum could re-open following the war with an almost intact collection.

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