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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 April, 2003, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Asbestos shuts famous museum
The museum is one of Amsterdam's biggest attractions

An asbestos scare has forced the indefinite closure of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the biggest museum in the Netherlands.

Asbestos, the potentially lethal insulation material used in older buildings, was found during an inspection by the national buildings service, the museum said on Monday.

The museum will have to be closed to public and staff for an indefinite period, it said.

It is famous for its collection of paintings from the "golden age" of Dutch and Flemish painting, including Nightwatch by Rembrandt.

Management said there was only a small risk to public health but that they had closed the museum as a precautionary measure.

The museum is one of Amsterdam's biggest tourist attractions, with more than one million visitors a year.

The Rijksmuseum recently underwent a multi-million pound restoration, and has been lending out some of its most important pieces to other museums and galleries.

Some of their Rembrandt works have been exhibited at a temporary gallery at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

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