Project Summary
Running time
120 minutes
Land of origine
 The Netherlands
Oeke Hoogendijk
Director of Photography
Sander Snoep, Gregor Meerman, Adri Schrover, Paul Cohen
 Mark Wessner
Eelco van de Meeberg, Christiaan van Hemert
Gys Zevenbergen
Pieter van Huystee
Line producer
Sylvia Baan, Annemiek van der Hell
Commissioning Editor
 Annemiek van der Zanden (NPS)


This film is supported by
Dutch Cultural Public Broadcaster NPS
                                                    Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund
                                                    Stichting de Thuiskopie
                                                    The Rijksmuseum
                                                    Stichting Arts & Ex’s
World premiere
November 22nd 2008
International Documentary Festival Amsterdam


World sales
 Pieter van Huystee Film
                                               Pieter van Huystee  cell: +31 6 1747 9860


Festival requests
 Curien Kroon
Curien Kroon / Pieter van Huystee Film 
                                                     Phone: +31 20 421 0606 /




Eind 2003 is het hoofdgebouw van het Amsterdamse Rijksmuseum dichtgegaan om, in de woorden van directeur Ronald de Leeuw, het 'mooist denkbare kunstmuseum' te worden. De Spaanse architecten Cruz en Ortiz tekenden voor een groots ontwerp; in 2008 zou een gemoderniseerd gebouw opengaan met een baanbrekend museaal concept. Filmmaakster Hoogendijk volgde de eerste vier jaar van wat Nederlands grootste culturele operatie is.


This is too Dutch for me” (architect Antonio Ortiz)
At the end of 2003 the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum closed its main building, to renovate it and turn it - in the words of its Director Ronald de Leeuw - into ‘the most beautiful art museum imaginable’. Spanish architects Cruz and Ortiz conceived a grand design which was to open in 2009: a modernised building embodying a groundbreaking museological concept. Film maker Hoogendijk followed the first four years of what is the Netherlands’ biggest and most ambitious cultural operation.
Gigantic steel claws crushed the walls of the internationally renowned treasure-trove of Dutch art. A new museum was to rise from the ashes of the old museum. But from the very start the project was plagued by opposition from the local authority, the Dutch Cycling Union and building inspectors, to name but a few..
The Dutch Cyclists’ Union organised a vociferous campaign to halt plans to move the main entrance to the thoroughfare through the museum. Local authority Oud-Zuid subsequently came to the unanimous decision that there would be “no building works in the thoroughfare”.  Again and again the architects’ designs bit the dust, and they were forced to compromise at every turn. As Spanish architect Antonio Ortiz put it: ‘This is not democracy, this is a perversion of democracy’.
The tortuously slow decision-making process and the continually delayed opening date eventually led to the departure of both project manager Bart van der Pot and chief curator of 20th century history Wim de Bell. Eventually Director Ronald de Leeuw also resigned. In this film we witness these developments at first hand.
When eventually even the call for tender failed, the battleground extended to include the Parliament in the Hague. Minister Plasterk was called to account. Why had he allowed the contracts to be put out to tender when he had been fully aware there was only one contractor eligible? This increased the costs to 212 million euros instead of the 134 million budgeted for: a difference of almost 80 million. The renovation is not expected to be finished before 2013.
The museum building resembles a deserted ghost house. The documentary gives us an exclusive tour of crumbled walls, disillusioned architects, the empty space left by the Night Watch, a ruthless selection process in the depot and the loving restoration of a 16th century “schuttersstuk”, a group portrait of the civilian guard.
The ingenious use of stylistic feature film elements, perfect camera work and subtle editing techniques make The New Rijksmuseum a compelling visual opera of great beauty.




Click here