Much of the city-centre's Rijksmuseum is closed for renovation until 2013 but key artworks and other items from the 17th-century Dutch 'Golden Age' collections can be viewed in the Philips Wing. They include Rembrandt's famous painting The Night Watch (1642).
This huge group portrait is a classic example of the artist's ability to paint "real" images of ordinary people, endowed with a unique luminosity. Among the figures, Rembrandt hides a portrait of himself, a favourite device of his.
Surrounding this painting are halls filled with pieces stretching from medieval times to the early 20th century. The emphasis is on Dutch work and there are impressive collections of both sculpture and decorative arts.
The Rijksmuseum began life in 1800 as the National Art Gallery, situated in The Hague. It transferred to Amsterdam a few years later, arriving at its present premises in 1885. An amalgamation of the nation's art collection and the Netherlands Museum for History and Art, it is the largest museum of its kind in the country.