Peter Dejong  /  AP file
Journalists look at 'The preaching of John the Baptist' by Dutch master Rembrandt, as they tour the exhibit 'Rembrandt and Uylenburgh, Dealing in Masterpieces' during a press preview at Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam, Sept. 14th. The show was the 11th in a series of special exhibitions marking the 400th year of Rembrandt's birth.
updated 10/17/2006 4:21:06 PM ET 2006-10-17T20:21:06

He may have died in 1669, but Rembrandt is still watching over his home city of Amsterdam -- and he looks a bit shocked by what he sees. In one self-portrait, flying on dozens of flags and banners throughout the city, the artist's eyes are wide, his hair disheveled, his lips pursed into an "ooh" of astonishment. In another portrait, hanging outside the Rijksmuseum, a speech bubble added to the image offers a tongue-in-cheek explanation for his startled, almost insulted expression: "400? moi?"

Rembrandt may well have been surprised to see the hoopla surrounding his 400th birthday this year in Amsterdam. The city has gone all out, celebrating its most famous artist with a flurry of exhibitions, a walking tour, special-edition posters and DVD's, and even a lavish Broadway-style musical. The festivities continue through the end of 2006 (and in some cases even beyond), so travelers planning an off-season trip to Holland can still get a taste of what makes Rembrandt such a beloved figure both here and around the world.

For those seeking to learn more about Rembrandt's life, Amsterdam's various exhibitions and tours include plenty of biographical information -- about the artist's birth in the small Dutch town of Leiden, his marriage to Saskia van Uylenburgh, his artistic success, and his eventual bankruptcy and fall from grace. But even for visitors who don't know Rembrandt's life story, his art speaks for itself -- in large-scale paintings like "The Night Watch," tiny etchings of Biblical scenes, and intimate self-portraits.

To help you plan your visit, we've rounded up the exhibitions and other highlights of the Rembrandt 400 celebration taking place through the end of 2006. Remember that dates and other details are subject to change at any time.

Need more information on traveling to Amsterdam? Get advice from other travelers on our Netherlands message board!

The Masterpieces
Where:The Rijksmuseum
What: Amsterdam's largest art museum is also home to Rembrandt's greatest works, many of which are on display in "The Masterpieces." This exhibition showcases Rembrandt's paintings alongside work from his Dutch Golden Age contemporaries, including Jacob van Ruisdael and Frans Hals. Complementing the paintings are Delft porcelain, exquisite dollhouses, and furniture from the era. Highlights include "The Night Watch" and "The Jewish Bride." The museum is also featuring "The Observer," an exhibition of Rembrandt's drawings.
When: Both exhibits run through December 31, 2006.

Rembrandt's House
Where:Rembrandt House
What: Near Waterlooplein is the house where Rembrandt lived from 1639 to 1658, now open as a museum. Visitors can tour the artist's kitchen, living areas and studios, all recreated as they would have been during Rembrandt's years here. Upstairs is a room filled with marble busts, seashells, tusks and other treasures collected by Rembrandt, while the main floor showcases paintings by the artist's contemporaries and pupils. Though there are relatively few pieces by Rembrandt himself, this is a fascinating place to see the kinds of objects that would have influenced his art. This fall the Rembrandt House hosts "Rembrandt and Uylenburgh, Dealing in Masterpieces," which shows a collection of paintings bought and sold by Hendrick Uylenburgh, an art dealer with whom Rembrandt worked closely.
When: Rembrandt's house is open all year. "Rembrandt and Uylenburgh, Dealing in Masterpieces" runs through December 10, 2006.

Rembrandt City Walk
Slideshow: A European tour Where: Throughout Amsterdam
What: The artist's house is just the beginning of the comprehensive Rembrandt City Walk, produced by the Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board. This walking tour, available in booklet form from any Amsterdam tourist office, includes stops at the churches where Rembrandt and his family are buried, the town hall (now a royal palace) where he petitioned for bankruptcy, and the working-class neighborhood where he lived out his poverty-stricken last decade. Along the way the guide also points out nearby sights of interest like the Anne Frank House and the oldest wooden residence in Amsterdam.
When: The walking guide can be purchased at Amsterdam tourist information offices throughout 2006.

Rembrandt the Musical
Royal Carre Theatre
What: Fans of musical theater won't want to miss "Rembrandt the Musical" at the elegant Royal Carre Theatre. The show tells the story of Rembrandt's adult life in Amsterdam, focusing on the women he loved and the stories behind his most famous works. It's a lavish production by any standard, featuring opulent period costumes and large-scale projections of Rembrandt's paintings. Though all singing and speaking is done in Dutch, international visitors can follow along with ShowTrans, a personal wireless device that provides periodic audio commentary, then switches off to let you enjoy the rest of each scene.
When: "Rembrandt the Musical" is playing Wednesdays through Sundays until December 10, 2006.

Rembrandt and the Bible
Where:The Biblical Museum
What: Though today Rembrandt is best known as a painter, during his lifetime he was much acclaimed for his dramatic and original etchings. Many of them are displayed in "Rembrandt and the Bible," an exhibit of more than 70 works featuring religious figures and tales from the Bible. The wide scope of the collection allows viewers to trace the evolution of Rembrandt's etching techniques over more than three decades.
When: "Rembrandt and the Bible" runs through December 10, 2006.

The "Jewish" Rembrandt
Where:Jewish Historical Museum
What: He may have lived in the Jewish Quarter and been friends with the rabbi Menasse ben Israel, but did Judaism really influence Rembrandt's art? The "'Jewish' Rembrandt" exhibit at the Jewish Historical Museum attempts to answer this question through close investigation of works like "Moses and the Tables of the Law" and the portrait of Dr. Ephraim Bueno.
When: "The 'Jewish' Rembrandt" runs from November 10, 2006 through February 4, 2007.

Rembrandt's Landscapes
Where:Municipal Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden
What: Though he spent his adult life in Amsterdam, Rembrandt was born in the small town of Leiden, today just 30 minutes away by train. There you'll find the Municipal Museum De Lakenhal, which is featuring an exhibition called "Rembrandt's Landscapes." This collection of scenic paintings, drawings and etchings may be a pleasant surprise to visitors who associate Rembrandt with his more famous portraits and Biblical scenes.
When: "Rembrandt's Landscapes" runs through January 7, 2007.

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