The Private World of Rembrandt

Tales of Love, Money, and Art

The Private World of Rembrandt tells the personal story of the greatest painter in Dutch history. Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam for a significant time producing a large number of works of art and left intriguing traces around town in the process. Amsterdam City Archives possesses the largest collection of Rembrandt documents, relating to his work, his clients, his wives and lovers, his children, and his financial troubles.
The exhibition is based on original seventeenth-century documents, and sheds light on an array of stories, some previously unknown.

Let the Rembrandtviewer guide you through the exhibition and use it to scan the archives’ original documents. With the aid of Augmented Reality (AR), the archival sources will be made accessible, enriched with sound and image, and illustrated digitally with artworks from all over the world. Besides archival documents, original work by Rembrandt will also be on display.
Etchings and drawings are featured, some from Amsterdam City Archives’ own collection and some on loan from institutions including the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandt House Museum.



Term: 07/12/2018-07/04/2019
Year: 2018/2019
Location: City Archive Amsterdam
AR-Development: ORB Amsterdam

Photography: Mike Bink, Bas Uterwijk, Synergique

Honourable mention at SpinAwards 2019
Nominee at European Design Awards 2019

“The Private World of Rembrandt, a remarkable and especially innovative project; in the end, it checked all the boxes, spatially, graphically and with never before seen AR”
Ludger Smit – Curator Amsterdam City Archives
Atmospheric exhibition hall

Discover Rembrandt’s life in Amsterdam from dozens of historical documents, displayed in chronological order in the City Archives. The years of Rembrandt’s life that are highlighted in the exhibition have each been paired with a theme, all themes together form an open exhibition. Each theme has its own backdrop, made out of a printed canvas. When walking through the exhibition, the canvasses create a layered view. The exhibition’s atmosphere and lighting were inspired by Rembrandt’s frequent use of chiaroscuro.

Documents from Rembrandt's life

The Amsterdam City Archives curate a large collection of sources from Rembrandt’s life. Rembrandt lived in Amsterdam during most of his painting carrier, which is visible in the city archives. Ranging from his notice of marriage to his first wife Saskia, to documents about his burial: dozens of original documents are on display and form the core of The Private World of Rembrandt.


Synergique developed the Rembrandtviewer especially for bringing the archives’ documents to life. The Rembrandtviewer consists of an iPad in a custom wooden case which has sockets for two headphones. It runs an application which is able to scan every document in the exhibition and supplement it with stories, texts and animations in augmented reality.

Access to the stories

The Private World of Rembrandt revolves around documents elegantly handwritten in Old-Dutch. They are hard to decrypt for the modern day reader. Every document is therefore complemented with a contemporary textual interpretation. Many of the documents also have an added audio clip or a digital layer in AR, in which the story corresponding to that specific document is told. The documents are thus made accessible to everyone.

Layered materials

The City Archives’ documents are enriched with an extra layer of animations, stories and texts using augmented reality. The layering of the AR experience is reinforced by the choice of materials for the exhibition. The different topics of the exhibition each have their own background canvas in a wooden frame. The canvasses are made of semi-transparent cloths and have been printed with texts and images of Rembrandts work. Every wooden frame contains multiple cloths, creating a layered effect.