The Rijksmuseum first opened its doors to the public in 1800 under the name of "Nationale Kunstgalerij." At the time, it was housed in Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. The collection mainly comprised paintings and historical objects. In 1808, the museum migrated to the new capital of Amsterdam, where it was based in the Royal Palace on Dam Square. After King Willem I's acension to the throne, the paintings and national print collection were moved to the Trippenhuis on Kloveniersburgwal, while the other pieces were returned to The Hague. The current building was put into use in the beginning of 1885. The Netherlands Museum for History and Art based in The Hague later moved into the same area, forming what would later become the hub of Dutch history, sculpture & art.

With all the changes throughout its history, Rijksmuseum's mission has remained consistent throughout, which is to create links between the viewer, the art, and the history associated with it. The museum wants to take all visitors on a historical and emotional journey, using powerful imagery to walk them through the history of the Netherlands with the aim of evoking emotions or relevance to the individual.

Over the years, this museum has grown, with the collections themselves having massively grown in size. This has resulted in the museum undergoing changes in order to accommodate the expansion. During the early 1900s, massive renovations were underway, including the introduction of what is now known as the Phillip Wing, in order to accommodate a collection of 19th century paintings that were donated by the Druker-Fraser family. In the 1970s, the museum was registering record attendance with over 500,000 visitors annually. Due to this peaking interest, the entire location was renovated and modernized. The building work in the courtyards was removed. Paintings, applied art, and history are no longer displayed in separate parts of the building but form a single chronological circuit that tells the story of Dutch art and history.

With so much to offer to the public, it is no wonder that this museum is one of the largest attractions not only in Amsterdam, but in the Netherlands as a whole. Littered with rich culture and key pieces that define the previous centuries of Dutch history, this is a a must-see attraction.