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Hobbemastraat 21

Amsterdam

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Rijksmuseum (Eberson's design)

A long history of preliminary designs and competitions preceded the opening of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (1885), which was designed by the architect P.J.H. Cuypers. These included, for example, four designs by the architect L.H. Eberson that were never realised, the last of which he did in 1875 when he had only been in the service of the Royal Family as the court architect for a little over a year.

The Rijksmuseum was to exhibit sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artworks. The expectation was that such a building would have educational value and that it would stimulate a national feeling of community, something that can be easily deduced from initial Committee meeting reports from the body who was acting as the client. At those meetings, the museum was referred to as a ‘permanent gallery of historical pieces that can help to shake our young national spirit out of its slumber by continually pointing out the noble deeds of our forefathers'.

In Eberson’s design for the museum from 1875, the national spirit is stirred from its slumber in rooms with overhead lighting. In the great halls, which are centrally located between the wings, the light enters via a system of roof-lighting, with the skylights clearly visible in the drawing of the right wing’s ceiling. The strip windows are indicated with a darker colour. The octagonal coping on the left of the drawing forms the roof of a monumental stairwell in the centre of the building.

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