Conservators repairing a masterpiece of the Dutch Golden Age will have the added pressure of crowds watching their every move. Beginning in July, Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum will display the restoration of Rembrandt van Rijn's 1642 masterpiece "The Night Watch" from within a specially designed glass chamber in its Gallery of Honour, entered by 2 million annual visitors. "Because it's such an amazingly important painting and so many people want to see it, we feel we have to keep showing it to the public even as we're restoring it," General Director Taco Dibbits tells the Guardian, noting the restoration of the massive painting, almost 12 feet high and more than 14 feet long, will be streamed online.
"This is a [once-in-a-lifetime] opportunity for the public" as "it's unlikely to happen again for the next few generations," Dibbits adds. The process, expected to take years, will focus on deteriorations since the painting was last restored in 1975, following a knife attack. Most notably, the figure of a dog in the lower right of the painting of civic guardsmen has turned white, per the BBC. The masterpiece will be showcased on its own for several months beginning in February, as the museum commemorates the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death. It will then be scanned and mapped before a restoration plan is agreed upon. (This painting could be mistaken for a lost Rembrandt, for good reason.)