In 1817 the Department of the Navy set up a model room for the ship and technical scale models that were used for building and equipping naval ships and instructing their crews. This superb collection of professional models and objects (approx. 1600 works) was transferred to the Rijksmuseum between 1883 and 1889. About 200 objects, mostly ship models, were added later.
The collection contains primarily 19th-century objects from the Netherlands, as well as items from England, France and the United States. The earliest objects date from the 17th and 18th century, such as the more than four-metre long model of the William Rex, a ship of the line from 1698, and several models of Dutch East Indiamen.
The Department of the Navy transferred almost its entire model collection to Rijksmuseum during the 1880s. By then, the collection included not only ship models but also paintings, photographs, weapons, captured flags and other trophies, like the famous carved stern decoration of the English flagship Royal Charles taken by Michiel de Ruyter during the raid on Chatham in 1667. In the Rijksmuseum the objects came to illustrate the rich maritime history of the Netherlands.