The Rijksmuseum Puts 125,000 Dutch Masterpieces Online, and Lets You Remix Its Art

The Rijksmu­se­um in Ams­ter­dam is one of the grand Euro­pean muse­ums. Home to many of the Dutch mas­ters (Rembrandt’s Night Watch, which seems to glow from its cen­ter, and Vermeer’s Milk­maid, to name just a few), the muse­um is locat­ed on the city’s Muse­umplein, sur­round­ed by the small­er Vin­cent Van Gogh muse­um and mod­ern Stedelijk.

All those mas­ter­pieces are now avail­able for close-up view online at the Rijksmu­se­um’s dig­i­tized col­lec­tion. Users can explore the entire col­lec­tion, which is hand­i­ly sort­ed by artist, sub­ject, style and even by events in Dutch his­to­ry. The new dig­i­tal archive has all the same great learn­ing poten­tial as any oth­er online col­lec­tion. It’s search­able, as is the muse­um’s library.

But the Dutch are a whim­si­cal peo­ple, so it seems right that, in dig­i­tiz­ing its col­lec­tion, the muse­um went a step fur­ther than fur­ther. Not only can users cre­ate their own online gal­leries from select­ed works in the museum’s col­lec­tion, they can down­load Rijksmu­se­um art­work for free to dec­o­rate new prod­ucts. (Note: users will need to cre­ate a free account to get start­ed.)

By vis­it­ing the muse­um’s Rijksstu­dio, art lovers can cre­ate their own “sets” of Rijksmu­se­um works. Sets can include images of just flow­ers (think of the lus­cious ros­es and tulips in Dutch still life paint­ings of the 1600s), faces appear­ing in por­traits, or paint­ings of Ams­ter­dam itself through the ages. Just select a work of art and drop it into your own image col­lec­tion. Then use these select­ed images to cre­ate your own per­son­al­ized prod­ucts. From tat­toos to wall­pa­per to scoot­ers (yes, scoot­ers) to smart phone skins. Unusu­al yet every­day items of all shapes and sizes can now bear the image of gor­geous art. The art is free and the object could be as sim­ple as a T‑shirt.

All of this can be done with the bless­ings and sup­port of the muse­um, which pro­vides links to sites that offer var­i­ous forms of print­ing on demand.

What bet­ter way to make the col­lec­tion acces­si­ble to the pub­lic? Some might say it is sac­ri­lege to put Rembrandt’s face on the side of a van; the Rijksmu­se­um encour­ages it. None of the artists are alive any­way to claim copy­right infringe­ment, now are they?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Rembrandt’s Face­book Time­line

Google “Art Project” Brings Great Paint­ings & Muse­ums to You

16th-Cen­tu­ry Ams­ter­dam Stun­ning­ly Visu­al­ized with 3D Ani­ma­tion

Kate Rix writes about dig­i­tal media and edu­ca­tion. Read more of her work at and

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