The Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has officially become the museum’s most attended event in its storied history. Over its four-month duration, the exhibition drew an astounding 650,000 visitors from 113 different countries, showcasing 28 of Vermeer’s masterpieces – the largest collection of his works ever assembled for public viewing. Iconic pieces such as “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “The Milkmaid” were among the featured works, with seven paintings making their debut in the Netherlands, including treasures from the Frick Collection in New York and the National Gallery of Art.

To provide an intimate and peaceful viewing experience, emblematic of Vermeer’s work, the Rijksmuseum made the decision to extend its hours while also limiting entry numbers. According to Taco Dibbits, the museum’s general director, this approach was essential for ensuring visitors could fully immerse themselves in the tranquility of Vermeer’s art.

The excitement for the exhibition was palpable from the start, with tickets selling out quickly after becoming available in February. This led to a frenzied secondary market, with some tickets being offered for as much as $2,724 on platforms like eBay. Despite this, a significant majority of the exhibition’s attendees, 55 percent, were from the Netherlands, with considerable interest from international visitors, particularly from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The exhibition’s allure attracted a number of high-profile visitors, including French President Emmanuel Macron, director Steven Spielberg, and actors Gillian Anderson and Jamie Lee Curtis, not to mention author Min Jin Lee of “Pachinko” fame.

The Rijksmuseum also saw a surge in digital engagement, with nearly 800,000 people exploring the exhibition’s online component, which featured an interactive tour narrated by actor Stephen Fry. This digital facet allowed those unable to attend in person to experience the beauty of Vermeer’s works virtually.

Moreover, the exhibition’s catalogue, designed by Irma Bloom and featuring all of Vermeer’s showcased paintings, has become the Rijksmuseum’s best-selling exhibition catalogue, with over 100,000 copies sold. The museum’s publication efforts also included “Vermeer. Faith, Light, and Reflection” by Gregor J. M. Weber and a children’s book “Miffy x Vermeer,” the latter of which quickly sold out online, further testament to the exhibition’s broad appeal and success.

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