By the time we arrived it was two hours before closing. We figured that'd be more than enough time to see the highlights and be on our way. Our attitude was more Rijksmuseum:check than Rijksmuseum:oboycan'twait. We knew there'd be Rembrandt, et al., and crowds and a gift shop. We were in Amsterdam; we were dutiful.
The game changer was the free Rijksmuseum phone app. Not only does it point out things you might miss (oh! the symbolism! the shadowy figures! the period gossip!) but it provides historical context for the art in a completely accessible style. We started with the recommended highlights, but double-backed to catch things not on the highlights route. We left when they closed, but we could've stayed another two hours.
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