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Dive into the Night Watch

Step across the red cord, take captain Frans Banninck Cocq’s hand, zoom in and let yourself be carried away into the world of the Night Watch.

Experience the Night Watch

Join Operation Night Watch in the museum

Operation Night Watch is the largest research and restoration project ever on 'the Night Watch'. The Rijksmuseum invites members of the public to watch the entire process at the museum and online.

Commissioned in 1642 by the mayor and leader of the civic guard of Amsterdam, Frans Banninck Cocq, to create a group portrait of his shooting company, the Night Watch is recognised as one of the most important works of art in the world today and hangs in the specially designed “Gallery of Honour” at the Rijksmuseum. It is more than 40 years since the Night Watch underwent its last major restoration, following an attack on the painting in 1975.

The Night Watch will be encased in a state-of-the-art clear glass chamber designed by the French architect Jean Michel Wilmotte. This will ensure that the painting can remain on display for museum visitors. A digital platform will allow viewers from all over the world to follow the entire process online continuing the Rijksmuseum innovation in the digital field.

Taco Dibbits, General Director Rijksmuseum: The Night Watch is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It belongs to us all, and that is why we have decided to conduct the restoration within the museum itself – and everyone, wherever they are, will be able to follow the process online.

The Rijksmuseum continually monitors the condition of the Night Watch, and it has been discovered that changes are occurring, such as the blanching on the dog figure at the lower right of the painting. To gain a better understanding of its condition as a whole, the decision has been taken to conduct a thorough examination. This detailed study is necessary to determine the best treatment plan, and will involve imaging techniques, high-resolution photography and highly advanced computer analysis. Using these and other methods, we will be able to form a very detailed picture of the painting – not only of the painted surface, but of each and every layer, from varnish to canvas.

A great deal of experience has been gained in the Rijksmuseum relating to the restoration of Rembrandt’s paintings. Last year saw the completion of the restoration of Rembrandt’s spectacular portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. The research team working on the Night Watch is made up of researchers, conservators and restorers from the Rijksmuseum, which will conduct this research in close collaboration with museums and universities in the Netherlands and abroad.

The Night Watch
The group portrait of the officers and other members of the militia company of District II, under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch, now known as the Night Watch, is Rembrandt’s most ambitious painting. This 1642 commission by members of Amsterdam’s civic guard is Rembrandt’s first and only painting of a militia group. It is celebrated particularly for its bold and energetic composition, with the musketeers being depicted ‘in motion’, rather than in static portrait poses. The Night Watch belongs to the city of Amsterdam, and it been the highlight of the Rijksmuseum collection since 1808. The architect of the Rijksmuseum building Pierre Cuypers (1827-1921) even created a dedicated gallery of honour for the Night Watch, and it is now admired there by more than 2.2 million people annually.

2019, The Year of Rembrandt
The Year of Rembrandt, 2019, marks the 350th anniversary of the artist’s death with two major exhibitions honouring the great master painter. All the Rembrandts of the Rijksmuseum (15 February to 10 June 2019) will bring together the Rijksmuseum’s entire collection of Rembrandt’s paintings, drawings and prints, for the first time in history. The second exhibition, Rembrandt-Velázquez (11 October 2019 to 19 January 2020), will put the master in international context by placing 17th-century Spanish and Dutch masterpieces in dialogue with each another.

Benefactors and partners of the Rijksmuseum
AkzoNobel is main partner of Operation Night Watch.

Operation Night Watch is made possible by AkzoNobel, The Bennink Foundation, PACCAR Foundation, Piet van der Slikke & Sandra Swelheim, American Express Foundation, Familie De Rooij, Het AutoBinck Fonds, Segula Technologies, Dina & Kjell Johnsen, Familie D. Ermia, Familie M. van Poecke, Henry M. Holterman Fonds, Irma Theodora Fonds, Luca Fonds, Piek-den Hartog Fonds, Stichting Zabawas, Cevat Fonds, Johanna Kast-Michel Fonds, Marjorie & Jeffrey A. Rosen, Stichting Thurkowfonds and the Night Watch Fund.

With the support of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the City of Amsterdam, Founder Philips and main sponsors ING, BankGiro Loterij and KPN every year more than 2 million people visit the Rijksmuseum and The Night Watch.

The resoration in 1975

Tickets with online discount

  • Entrance adult - € 20.00   € 19.00
  • Entrance ages 18 and under - Free
  • Entrance EYCA card - € 10.00   € 9.50
  • I already have a ticket/voucher - Free

Practical information

Where
Night Watch Gallery, second floor

When
8 July will be the start of the research project. The Night Watch will then be visible in the glass chamber.

Opening hours
Daily from 9 - 17h.

More information

Night Watch in the Rijks shop

The Night Watch has inspired artists and designers for centuries. In the webshop of the Rijksmuseum you will find the greatest gift items with this incomparable masterpiece.

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Meet the team

  • Paintings Conservator

    Susan Smelt is a paintings conservator who holds a BA and MA in Art History (University of Groningen) and a Professional Doctorate in Conservation and Restoration of Paintings (2012, University of Amsterdam). During and after her conservation studies she worked at the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), the Mauritshuis and in private practice. Since 2014 she has been working at the Rijksmuseum on different projects such as the development of the Paint Sample Database and a user-friendly system to gain color accurate photographs of cross-sections and the research and conservation of Rembrandt’s portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. Currently she works as project coordinator of the scientific research and conservation treatment of the Night Watch.

  • Head of Science

    Katrien Keune has a PhD in chemistry and is head of Science at the Rijksmuseum. The department Science, a sub-department of Conservation & Science, conducts research on the Rijksmuseum collection in close collaboration with conservators, curators and (technical) art historians. She also holds an appointment as Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Her expertise lies in aging and degradation studies of pigments and oil paintings at the micro- and molecular level, especially related to pigment-binding medium interactions. From 2016 to 2018 she led the scientific research in support of the treatment of Rembrandt’s portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. For Operation Night Watch, Katrien will be responsible for the scientific research and paint sample analyses.

  • Senior Scientist

    Robert Erdmann is Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum and Full Professor in the Faculties of Science (Physics) and Humanities (Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage) at the University of Amsterdam, positions he has held since 2014. Prior to that, he served as Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and of Applied Mathematics at the University of Arizona (USA). Before focusing on cultural heritage, he worked on multiscale computational materials science, image processing, and machine learning for design of novel materials and material processing. His current work focuses on applying data science and microstructural analysis to collect, process, and visualize massive multimodal datasets for art objects. He is currently involved in the scientific research of the Night Watch, where he is responsible for the scientific data infrastructure and computational imaging.

  • Paintings Research Scientist

    Annelies van Loon is Paintings research scientist at the Rijksmuseum and the Mauritshuis. She trained as a chemist (MSc, UvA) and a paintings conservator (SRAL), before she specialized in the materials analysis and ageing and deterioration processes of old master paintings. In 2008, she received a PhD in chemistry from FOM Institute AMOLF/ UvA on the topic of ‘Color changes and chemical reactivity in seventeenth-century oil paintings’. From 2012 to 2016, she was project leader of the NWO-sponsored ‘Science4Arts PAinT Project’ focusing on aspects of metal soaps and pigment-binder interactions. She was also main researcher of the ‘REVISRembrandt Project’ about the development and application of new chemical imaging techniques to Rembrandt’s late painting technique. For Operation Night Watch she is responsible for the macro-XRF scanning of the painting.

  • Junior Scientist

    Francesca Gabrieli is a junior scientist in the Science department at the Rijksmuseum. She graduated with a BA in chemistry (2009) and a MA in Physical Chemistry (2011) and a PhD in Chemical science applied to cultural heritage study (2015) at the University of Perugia and CNR-ISTM. From 2016 to 2018 she was a postdoctoral researcher in imaging science at National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, USA, where she learnt and developed reflectance imaging techniques applied to the study of many art objects. For Operation As part of the research team for Operation Night Watch, Francesca will be responsible for the visible (VIS) to near Infrared (NIR) imaging spectroscopy techniques.

  • Junior Scientist

    Victor Gonzalez is junior scientist in the Science Department at the Rijksmuseum where he is involved in the scientific analysis of the materials and techniques of old master paintings, with a focus on historic inorganic pigments. Prior to this, he held a one-year postdoctoral position at TU Delft, after obtaining a PhD in Chemistry from the Sorbonne-UPMC University and the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France in Paris (C2RMF). In the framework of Operation Night Watch, Victor will carry out chemical imaging of the painting and synchrotron studies of pigments used by Rembrandt.

  • Photographer

    Carola van Wijk has been working as a staff photographer at the Rijksmuseum since 2007. She is responsible for the photography of 3D objects and paintings and for the museum’s conservation photography. Carola is, with Henni van Beek, the author of the instruction manual for the photography of 2D objects. Carola is one of the initiators of the Manual photographing 3D objects for the Rijksmuseum that was published during 2and3D Photography conference, Amsterdam (2017). She worked closely together with responsible authors and curators for various publications. In the framework of Operation Night Watch she will work on different photographic techniques.

  • Photographer

    Henni van Beek, has been working as photographer for the project ‘Printroom Online’ at the Rijksmuseum since 2007. He is, with Carola van Wijk, the author of the Instruction manual for 2d objects for the Rijksmuseum. Henni is also involved in establishing guidelines for 2D digitization that serve as the standard for all photography in the museum. He gives advice about technical specifications when outsourcing diverse projects and how to maintain quality standards throughout the process. In addition to this he gives courses on digitization and the evaluation of scans to new co-workers at the National Archive. In the framework of Operation Night Watch she will work on different photographic techniques.

  • Photographer

    Rik Klein Gotink studied at the Institute of the Arts (ARTEZ) Enschede. Prior to that, he studied applied Physics for two years at the University of Twente. With his skills as a semi-physicist, he has developed several tools to improve the photographic workflow. Since 1992 he has been gradually shifting his practice exclusively to cultural heritage photography for museums and art institutions, such as the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp, Antwerp. From 2010 to 2016 he was a freelance photographer involved in the Bosch Research and Conservation Project. He has been a part-time Staff Photographer for the Rijksmuseum since 2005. In the framework of Operation Night Watch he will work on different photographic techniques.

  • Head of Paintings Conservation

    Petria Noble is Head of Paintings Conservation at the Rijksmuseum. She studied Art History and conservation at New York University (USA). Prior to joining the Rijksmuseum in 2014, she worked for 18 years at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, where she treated numerous paintings by Rembrandt. As an expert in the material aspects of Rembrandt paintings she has (co-)published widely in conservation and scientific journals. Her current research activities include the application of non-invasive imaging techniques for the study of late Rembrandt paintings. In 2016-2018 she led the treatment of Rembrandt’s 1634 portraits of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit. For Operation Night Watch she will be responsible for the conservation treatment of the painting.

  • Paintings Conservator

    Lisette Vos is a paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a master’s degree and professional post-master in Conservation and Restoration of Paintings in 2010. Lisette has worked on special projects for the reopening of the Rijksmuseum in 2013, this included the stretching of two large scale wax-resin lined paintings, one being the largest free hanging painting in the Rijksmuseum: The Battle of Waterloo (J.W. Pieneman). In 2014 Lisette participated in the research project ‘From Isolation to Coherence: an Integrated Technical, Visual and Historical Study of 17th and 18th Century Dutch Painting Ensembles’ at the Delft University of Technology and the Rijksmuseum. Since 2019 Lisette is involved as an active participant in several grant projects within the Getty Foundation’s Conserving Canvas Initiative, which aims to pass on and expand knowledge and practical skills for the structural treatment of canvas paintings. Next to full conservation treatments and research on paintings, Lisette has gained (practical) experience with collections management and preventive conservation. Within the Night Watch project Lisette will be involved in the technical research and conservation treatment of Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

  • Paintings Conservator

    Esther van Duijn is a paintings conservator and researcher, who has specialised in the history of paintings conservation in the Netherlands and has published widely on this subject. She studied Art History at the University of Utrecht (1991-1996) and paintings conservation at the Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) in Maastricht (1998-2003). In 2013 she successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis ‘All that glitters is not gold. The depiction of gold-brocaded velvets in fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Netherlandish paintings’. As conservator she worked on numerous paintings from the 17th to the 19th century, from Van Goyen to Van Gogh. In 2016 she co-wrote an article in the ‘Burlington Magazine’ with Jan Piet Filedt Kok on the conservation history of the Night Watch.

  • Paintings Conservator

    Anna Krekeler was trained as a paintings conservator at the University of Fine Arts in Dresden, where she graduated in 2007. Since 2007 she has been working as a paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum. Her research focuses mainly on the painting technique of Dutch 17th century artists, including Johannes Cornelis Verspronck and Pieter de Hooch. In the frame work of the of the Late Rembrandt exhibition in 2015 she performed research into the painting technique of Rembrandt’s late works and contributed to the catalogue essay on the artist’s experimental technique. She has been involved in MA-XRF imaging of several paintings by Rembrandt including the Jewish Bride, the Syndics and Claudius Civilis and will be involved in the technical research and conservation treatment of Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

  • Paintings Conservator

    Giulia Sara de Vivo is a paintings conservator trained at the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro in Rome (2007) and at the Universita’ della Tuscia (2014). She has been working in the Rijksmuseum since April 2015 focusing on technical research and non-destructive analytical techniques. In 2012-15 she was employed by the Vatican Museums, before that she had worked on the Omayyad paintings of UNESCO World Heritage site Qusayr Amra (Kingdom of Jordan, 2012) and held a private practice in conservation. She will be involved in the technical research of Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

  • Paintings Conservator

    Ige Verslype studied Art History at the University of Utrecht and was trained as a paintings conservator at the Limburg Conservation Institute (SRAL), Maastricht. Following a postgraduate internship at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge (MA), she has been working as a paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum since 2004. In 2013 she joined the interdisciplinary research ‘From Isolation to Coherence: an Integrated Technical, Visual and Historical Study of 17th and 18th Century Dutch Painting Ensembles’. She is conducting her PhD research on the technical development of painted wall hangings within this project. Verslype carried out technical research of the Rembrandt paintings of the Rijksmuseum for the second collection catalogue of Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. She has worked on several paintings by Rembrandt's pupils and studio and will be involved in the technical research and treatment of Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

  • Junior Paintings Conservator

    Laura Raven is a Junior Paintings Conservator who graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a BA in Art History (2011), and a MSc (2013) and Professional Doctorate (2016) in Conservation and Restoration of Paintings. During the last two years of her conservation studies she interned at Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL), the Rijksmuseum and the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC, US. In 2016-2017 she was involved in the ‘Matthijs Maris at Work’ technical research project, and the accompanying book publication at the Rijksmuseum. As part of the research team for Operation Night Watch, Laura has been investigating alternative varnish removal methods since 2018.

  • Junior Paintings Conservator

    Nienke Woltman graduated from the Paintings Conservation Masters Programme at the University of Amsterdam in 2012 and has been working as Junior Paintings Conservator at the Rijksmuseum since 2013. She is responsible for managing, assessing and performing conservation work on paintings going on loan. Nienke conducted full restoration treatments and technical research on paintings by Colijn de Coter, Jan van Goyen, Aert de Gelder, George Hendrik Breitner and Fernand Khnopff. She will be involved in the technical research and conservation treatment of Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

  • Head of Fine and Decorative Arts

    Gregor J.M. Weber studied art history at universities in Cologne, Aachen and Utrecht. His PhD (1987) concerned art theory of the Dutch 17th century. From 1994 to 2004, Weber served as curator of Italian painting at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, and from 2004 to 2009 as director of the Gemäldegalerie in Kassel. Since 2009 he is Head of Fine and Decorative Arts of the Rijkmuseum. He worked as a lecturer at various institutions, including the University of Bamberg, which appointed him 'honorary professor' in 2005. His academic publications take a broad approach and address the art theory, iconography and stylistic analyses of art originating from the areas to the north and south of the Alps. He organised various exhibitions on 16th to 18th century paintings, including four exhibitions on Rembrandt - in Kassel 'Rembrandt im Kontrast. Die Blendung Simsons und der Segen Jakobs' (2005/2006), 'Rembrandts landscapes' (2006, in collaboration with the Lakenhal, Leyden), 'Rembrandt-Bilder. Die historische Sammlung der Kasseler Gemäldegalerie' (2006) and in Amsterdam 'Late Rembrandt' (2015, with Jonathan Bikker in collaboration with the National Gallery, London). Currently, he is part of the steering group of Operation Night Watch and is involved in the art historical research of the Night Watch.

  • Researcher

    Jonathan Bikker has worked at the Rijksmuseum since 2001 and has been Curator of Research since 2006. He studied Art History at McMaster University and Queen’s University in Canada. In the Rijksmuseum’s Fine Arts department, he primarily works as writer and editor-in-chief of a series of catalogs of 17th-century North Dutch paintings. He has also contributed to a number of Rijksmuseum exhibition catalogs. He is the author of ‘Marten and Oopjen: two monumental portraits by Rembrandt’ (2016) and ‘Rembrandt: Biography of a Rebel’ (2019). He is currently involved in the art historical research of the Night Watch.

  • Head of Paintings and Sculpture

    Pieter Roelofs is curator of 17th century Dutch painting at the Rijksmuseum since 2006. Among the exhibition projects he was involved in are ‘Asia > Amsterdam’ (2015, with Peabody Essex Museum, Salem) and ‘Hercules Segers’ (2016, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). One of the research projects he is co-supervising is the Thread Count Automation Project on the Utrecht Caravaggisti. Roelofs curated a variety of exhibitions, including ‘The Limbourg Brothers: Nijmegen Masters at the French Court’ (2005, Museum Het Valkhof, Nijmegen), Hendrick Avercamp: Master of the Ice scene (2009, with the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC), Gabriel Metsu (2010, with the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin / NGA, Washington DC) and Rembrandt, Claudius Civilis (2014). Roeloefs is currently involved in the art historical research of the Night Watch and is part of the Night Watch advisory committee.

  • Professor

    Erma Hermens is Rijksmuseum Professor of Studio Practice and Technical Art History at the University of Amsterdam, Art History, Faculty of Humanities, and Senior Researcher in Technical Art History at the Rijksmuseum. She was formerly Associate Professor in Technical Art History at the University of Glasgow, Scotland where she established an MA programme in Technical Art History. She has published and lectured widely in this field and (co)organized many conferences. She coordinated the research project ‘Matthijs Maris at Work’, and the accompanying book publication. She is currently involved in the technical art historical research of the Night Watch.

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Benefactors and partners

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