Well… it may have cost a few bucks – € 375 million to be exact, some € 175 million over budget – but then at least you’ve got something. Tomorrow the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam – our famous national museum – will reopen after ten years of refurbishment. And we can’t stop talking about it.

It’s everywhere. TV spots encourage us to take a look, and popular TV shows like ‘De Wereld Draait Door’ were showing sneak previews even before the press was allowed in. The beaming museum director Wim Pijbes is as famous as a pop star, making endless TV appearances and giving countless interviews with unstoppable enthusiasm. Every newspaper, every website is writing about it.

No surprises there. The refurbishment should have taken three years, but three years became six, six years became eight, and eight became nine when a fight broke out between museum and city about a tunnel for cyclists under the museum. But now, after ten years, the long wait is finally over.

Last week the museum opened for a day, so press from all over the world could have a look at the result. Those lucky bastards have already seen the ‘Gallery of Honour’ that not only houses the most famous painting in the world – Rembrandt’s The Night Watch – but also works by other famous painters of the Golden Age, like Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jan Steen.

The Dutch press were lyrical about the new museum. As well as reporting on the museum itself, they also couldn’t help reporting on how positive the foreign press is being about our national pride.

Only one more day… tomorrow Queen Beatrix will officially reopen the museum as her last important task before she abdicates as the Dutch Monarch.

So… do yourself – and us – a favour. While you are in our country, take a weekend off, travel to the capital – it’s just a two-hour train trip away – and admire the national treasures that have been hidden for so long.

– 12 april 2013 –