Ffestiniog Blue Grey roofing slates grace King’s Cross Station Find out more Blue Grey Ffestiniog roofing slates adorn St Pancras Station Find out more ST MARTIN'S GOES BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH FFESTINIOG WELSH SLATE Find out more The Imposing Rijksmuseum roof slated in Ffestiniog Blue Grey Find out more


7 January 2023

Almost 150 years after work first started on its purpose-built home, the Netherland’s national museum is enjoying a new lease of life, thanks in part to Welsh Slate.

The leading UK manufacturer’s Ffestiniog Blue Grey slates in Capital grade and four sizes – 400mm x 200mm, 400mm x 250mm, 300mm x 200mm and 250mm x 250mm – were selected by Van Hoogevest Architects for the reroof of the imposing Rijksmuseum as a major part of a 10-year, €375 million restoration.

During this time, the museum was restored to the design plan of the original architect Pierre Cuypers. Though modernised, the interior is closer to his building in all its Gothic/Renaissance grandeur. Painting, applied arts and history are no longer displayed in separate parts of the building. Instead, everything comes together to tell a single chronological story - the story of Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages up through the 20th Century.

The museum’s restoration was very thorough and started from the top down, with the renewal of the natural slate roof that had been untouched for more than 130 years. Welsh Slate distributors Lei Import BV were called in to determine what the original slate type was and whether it was still available. The architect and client then decided on the Ffestiniog slates, which are also warrantied for 100 years, for their colour and quality.

In collaboration with the restoration architects and Ridder Leidekkers en Koperslagers, specialists in the restoration of roofs and the new construction of roofs and facades with slate and natural stone, the Philips Wing was the last element to be restored.

On its reopening by Queen Beatrix, the museum drew an unprecedented number of visitors – more than two million - and it continues to be the most visited museum, and the largest art museum, in the Netherlands.

It now has on display 8,000 objects of art and history, from a total collection of 1 million objects from the years 1200–2000, among which are some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. The museum also has a small Asian collection, which is on display in the Asian pavilion.



Welsh Slate commercial director Michael Halle said: “We were delighted that the architects and the museum recognised the importance of reslating such a historically and culturally significant roof with a material that complemented that significance.”



In 1798, the Dutch government decided to establish a national museum on the French model, The Louvre. Intended as a ‘prestige project’ to inspire patriotic feeling, it would also offer a place to store important objects. This National Art Gallery first opened its doors in 1800 in Huis Ten Bosch in The Hague. It brought together more than 200 paintings and historical objects from both individual collections and national institutions (some defunct) like the Dutch East India Company. The first purchase – The Swan by Jan Asselijn – cost 100 guilders and is one of the Rijksmuseum’s top attractions to this day.

In 1808, when the Kingdom of Holland was under the rule of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, the national collections were moved to the country’s new capital of Amsterdam, to the Royal Palace on Dam Square, originally the town hall. There they joined the city’s most important paintings, including Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. This Royal Museum officially opened in 1809 on the palace’s top floor.

After King Willem I came to the throne in 1813, the museum and the national print collection from The Hague were both relocated to Trippenhuis, a 17th Century city palace, and it was christened the ‘Rijks Museum’, or ‘national museum’.

Soon, however, several the collections were removed to other locations – objects from Classical Antiquity went to a new Museum of Antiquities in Leiden and applied arts and crafts to a recently formed Cabinet of Rarities in The Hague. Then in 1838, a separate museum was created in Paviljoen Welgelegen in Haarlem, to house modern, 19th Century art. By contrast with the Napoleonic period, the Rijks Museum during this time received few major works.

With grand art galleries going up all over Europe, the Netherlands deserved a proud national museum building of its own .. but Trippenhuis was unsuitable. Architect Pierre Cuypers designed the Rijksmuseum in a historicising style, blending Gothic and Renaissance elements with a wealth of national symbolism. After years of debate – the design was too medieval, too Catholic and not Dutch enough in the eyes of many – construction started in 1876 and in 1885 it officially opened.

In addition to the existing collection, the Rijksmuseum came to house almost all of Amsterdam’s collection of older paintings, such as Rembrandt’s Jewish bride. Works from Haarlem also returned, there was a dedicated space to house part of the Cabinet of Rarities, and the print collection got its own print room.

Over the years, the Rijksmuseum building underwent quite a few changes. On the south-west end, more galleries were added between 1904 and 1916, constituting what is now the Philips Wing. In the 1950s and 60s, the two original courtyards were filled in to create more gallery space.

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, the collections of National History and Sculpture and Applied Arts were moved to separate parts of the building. Attempts to establish a new museum of Dutch history and make the Rijksmuseum a dedicated art gallery came to nothing. In the 1950s, a new Asian Art department was formed with the arrival of the collection of the Association of Friends of Asian Art.



< back

Sales Office
Penrhyn Quarry
LL57 4YG

+44 (0) 1248 600656