The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is calling its Vermeer exhibition “the most successful in its history,” with 650,000 visitors from 113 countries during its 16-week run.
The exhibition featured 28 works by Vermeer, making it the largest exhibition ever devoted to him. Among those works were famous paintings such as the Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Milkmaid.
Seven of the 28 works had never been on display in the Netherlands, among them three paintings from the Frick Collection in New York as well as ones from the National Gallery of Art, which hosted its own Vermeer blockbuster in 1999.
The Rijksmuseum extended visiting hours for the show, but said it purposely limited the number of visitors to ensure “the best experience possible.”
“Vermeer is the artist of peacefulness and intimacy,” Rijiksmuseum general director Taco Dibbits said in a press statement. “We wanted the visitors to enjoy it to the fullest. This was only possible by limiting the number of visitors.”
Massive public interest resulted in tickets selling out within days of its opening in February. Several days after the show went on view, the museum shut down general sales on its website. Unverified eBay listings marketed tickets priced as highly as $2,724.
With tickets in such short supply, more than half (55 percent) of visitors for the Vermeer show came from the Netherlands. The top five international nations for visitors were France (17 percent), Germany (16 percent), United Kingdom (16 percent), and the United States (14 percent).
Notable visitors included the French President Emmanuel Macron during his official state visit, director Steven Spielberg, actors Gillian Anderson and Jamie Lee Curtis, and Pachinko author Min Jin Lee.
Thousands of people frantically checking the Rijksmuseum’s website also helped drive traffic to the show’s website. The museum said nearly 800,000 people visited the online component, an interactive feature showcasing all of the paintings that was narrated by actor Stephen Fry.
According to the museum’s press office, more than 100,000 copies of the Vermeer catalogue have also been sold, “more than any other exhibition catalogue in the history of the Rijksmuseum.” The catalogue was designed by Dutch graphic designer Irma Bloom, who has several works in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The Rijksmuseum also published the book Vermeer. Faith, Light, and Reflection by the co-curator of the show and the museum’s head of fine arts, Gregor J. M. Weber, as well as the children’s book Miffy x Vermeer. The museum did not provide sales figures for these two other titles, but the latter is currently sold out online.