The Rijksmuseum with kids: all you need to know to plan your visit
All you need to know to plan a visit to the Rijksmuseum with kids + best tours and tickets to Amsterdam’s most famous museum with kids in tow.
Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is one of the most beautiful art museums in the world and one of the most visited attractions in Amsterdam.
Famous for housing some of the most impressive works of the so-called Dutch Masters and the most famous masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, the Rijksmuseum is a must-see for art lovers and may not strike you as a child-friendly attraction.
However, the Rijksmuseum is fantastic for kids, even little ones!
In typical Dutch fashion, the Rijksmuseum is well equipped to welcome children and has several systems and tours that make it an excellent place for families.
In this guide, you will find all you need to know to plan your visit to the Rijksmuseum and you’ll discover why we consider it one of the most child-friendly museums in Amsterdam.
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Why visit the Rijksmuseum with kids
The Rijksmuseum is one of the most significant art museums in the world and hosts an unparalleled collection of paintings by Rueben, Vermeer, Frans Hals and other protagonists of the Dutch Golden Age.
This makes it a museum of outstanding beauty and educational value for children and adults alike and an unmissable piece of art history for any age.
The museum is housed in grand, elegant building kids will love.
The museum has excellent family programs that make the pieces come to life even for smaller visitors.
Visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids: challenges and tips
The Rijksmuseum is easy to visit with kids. However, it is a traditional art museum, not a kids’ one with stuff to touch and build.
As such, it is essential to set expectations right.
My tips for a successful museum visit with children are:
If your children are not used to visiting art museums, I recommend talking to them before going in to establish behavior expectations and the type of environment they will find.
Make sure all basic needs such as toilet, food and appropriate clothing are met before you go in.
Decide beforehand what part of the museum to visit: the Rijksmuseum is so big, preparation is key!
Get postcards at the gift shop the children can use as a DYI scavenger hunt clue
Bring paper, pencil and eraser and suggest picking paintings or exhibits to replicate on paper.
Bring a magazine or other safe form of support to help them drawing with ease: the museum has many benches they can use to rest, all at a safe distance from the pictures.
Promise a reward: on a sunny day, our favorite reward is playing in the Rijksmuseum fountains in the museum gardens!
I highly recommend you avail the family tours and programs offered by the museum.
Best family tickets for the Rijksmuseum
You can get museum tickets from the Rijksmuseum official site here. Children under 18 go free and special rates are available for students.
You can also get tickets from GetYourGuide, my favorite ticket provider for museums (they have a great cancellation policy that gives me peace of mind)
An affordable family scavenger hunt game kit is available from the museum front desk – the game takes about 1h to complete and it is suited to kids 7 and up especially.
Family guided tours are available daily – find price and info here. The tour is suited to kids age 6 to 12.
On weekends, free Rembrandt drawing lesson or paint demonstration happen in the Picknick Room between 11 am and 4pm.
What to see in the Rijksmuseum with kids
Each family has their favorite parts of this museum. These are those we enjoy the most.
I recommend starting your family visit to the Rijksmuseum by stopping outside of it and admiring its incredible facade.
The museum is a large, elegant building and its red and golden color is sure to attract the children’s attention.
My two adore the tunnel leading you to the main entrance and the garden just beside it: a great place to reward them with outdoors playtime after the visit!
The souvenir shop
The Rijksmuseum has a lovely souvenir shop which I recommend as a first stop.
The shop has several cool things kids will like (my two spend ages looking at an oversized book with the museums’ top masterpieces!) and it is a great place for collecting postcards and create your DIY scavenger hunt.
The interior details of the Great Hall
The jewel in the crown in this museum is the art collection; however, kids will also be taken by the elements of the museum’s decor. If they look closely, they should spot the many carved animals decorating arches and railings such as phoenix and demon faces!
The Gallery of Honour
The Gallery of Honour is the large museum gallery housing some of the most famous masterpieces in the museum.
The space is vast and tall and has a main area showcasing The Night Watch and several lateral spaces: it always makes me think of a cathedral with an altar and side chapels!
This is a lovely space for kids, spacious and airy, especially now that the crowds are under control due to current restrictions (it used to get very busy!)
The Gallery of Honour is where you find many of the most famous Dutch Golden Age Paintings by Vermeer and Van Dyke and also where you see Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch.
Most kid-friendly pieces in the Rijksmuseum
Each family and child will have their favorite masterpiece from the museum; however, the following are those our kids loved the most.
As you will see, while the Rijksmuseum is mostly known for paintings, our children liked other exhibits too!
The Nightwatch – The most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum is The Nightwatch, painted by Rembrandt in 1642. The picture is unmissable and attracts large crowds: but it is worth seeking out as it is stunning for adults but also impressive for children.
The first thing they are likely to notice is how big it is: the painting is 3.63 m x 4.37 m!
However, what goes on in the scene will quickly pick their attention. The number of people, the many stories depicted and the use of light will spark questions and make them come up with their own interpretation of what they are seeing.
Older kids will enjoy the stories connected to this painting, which they can learn on the museum’s app.
Still life with cheese by Van Dyke – a still life may not be immediately appealing to children but this one hides a fun fact that will likely pique their attention.
The cheese at the top, the one in dark color, is most likely representing a type of Dutch cheese called Texelse ,which counts goat droppings as one of its ingredients!
The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer is one of the most famous paintings in the museum. I like to challenge my kids to find it in the museum and then challenge them again to spot the small Delft tiles in the bottom right corner of the painting! Older kids are likely to appreciate the detailing and the painting technique, which uses dots of color to give texture and light to the image.
Cradle, rattle and baby cabinet – The Rijksmuseum has some interesting pieces from Dutch households that tell us how wealthy families used to live.
One that is likely to pique the children attention are the ancient cradle for the child of an East India company official, with carvings of sea creatures and deities meant to guard and bring luck to the baby, very different from our understanding of a kid friendly bed!
Worth noticing are also the kids’ rattle and the incredibly carved wooden cabinet that would have held baby essentials and niceties.
Petronella Oortman Doll’s house – Another Rijksmuseum exhibit kids are likely to love is the Dolls’ House of Petronella Oortman, dating from the late seventeenth century.
The dolls house is built inside an exquisite cabinet and it is very realistic: the materials replicate what a real elegant house would have looked like, complete with marble floors, wooden cabinets and even real china!
Fun fact: Dolls’ houses were not kids’ toys but ways for wealthy women to showcase their ideal interior and taste.
The Model of the William Rex – The William Rex is a model boat showing what a Dutch warship looked like in the end of the seventeenth century.
The boat is made by actual shipbuilders, it is to scale and has incredible detailing: the cannons and anchor usually are a great hit with kids!
The FK 23 Bantam – Transport-loving kids are sure to love the FK23 bantam, a World War I fighter plane!
The plane was a marvel of its time as it could reach the speed of 240 kilometers per hour, unheard of at that time. When the war ended, the plane was retired, and it became a show model aircraft instead.
What to carry when visiting the Rijksmuseum
To visit the museum, I recommend you bring:
Goos shoes – there is a lot of walking to be done in this museum: comfy shoes for adults and kids is a must
Paper, crayon and an eraser: I recommend you choose one that doesn’t leave any residue so your visit leave no trace. Please note that markers are not allowed for safety reasons.
Snacks – some parts of the museum allow kids to have food brought from home
A change of clothing in summer – if, like mines, your kids will get soaked playing in the outdoor fountains of the museum garden!
Baby changing supplies
Children facilities at the Rijksmuseum
- A limited supply of strollers and pushchairs is available in the museum.
- Front baby carriers are allowed; back and bulky carriers are not.
- There are free cloakroom facilities beside the museum entrance to leave bulky carriers, bags and coats.
- A feeding room is available close to the downstairs toilets.
- Children can have their own snack in dedicated areas of the museum (Picknick and Atrium); the museum cafe has a kids’ menu.
- Quieter museum areas are marked in green on the Museum Floor plan: these are great for kids and adults who may get sensory overload from the crowds and the museum environment. if you need more than a quieter room, the museum also has a stimulus-free room: ask reception how to access it.
- The museum is equipped with baby changing rooms and a feeding room.
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview and my tips for visiting the Rijksmuseum with kids. You can find here >>> all out tips for visiting Amsterdam with kids. Safe travel planning!