Dresden’s Kupferstich-Kabinett (Cabinet of Prints, Drawings and Photographs) is a museum in which the world is at home; it is a place to look, learn and enjoy. What is more, it is one of the world’s most prominent art museums for drawings, prints and photographs. This “museum of masterpieces“ holds world-famous drawings and prints by Dürer, van Eyck, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Fragonard and Caspar David Friedrich, as well as works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso and Baselitz. Engravings by Schongauer and woodcuts by Cranach are found alongside rare specimens from the history of artistic photography.
The significance of the Kupferstich-Kabinett lies in the high quality and in some cases the uniqueness of the artistic drawings, watercolours and gouaches, etchings, lithographs and engravings, illustrated books and portfolios, as well as photographic art, that make up its holdings. The wealth of the collection is utterly incalculable. It comprises works by the most famous artists from numerous countries, amounting altogether to around 515,000 works by more than 20,000 artists covering eight centuries. The spectrum of themes is inexhaustible. There are profane and Biblical motifs, portraits, landscapes and still lifes, as well as historic depictions of courtly festivities and scientific illustrations. Works from among the abundant holdings of the Kupferstich-Kabinett and items on loan from international museum partners are presented in changing exhibitions in the museum’s own display rooms in the Residenzschloss. If that is not sufficient, visitors can view originals close-up in the publicly accessible study hall – a place to look, learn and enjoy.
Sitting at a table in the study hall and admiring an original work of art without a frame or glass to act as a barrier, you can directly appreciate the characteristic features of the artist’s hand: a quite unique and highly pleasurable artistic experience. On the third floor of the Residenzschloss, the Kupferstich-Kabinett offers all visitors — both specialists and the general public — the chance to study the museum’s holdings close up in the original. Art on paper is sensitive to light exposure. Light causes paper to yellow and the colours to fade. So as not to damage the art, the drawings, graphic works, prints and photographs from among the immense holdings of the Kupferstich-Kabinett cannot be placed on permanent display. The museum therefore only shows its holdings in changing exhibitions, otherwise preserving its valuable sheets for future generations by keeping them in the storerooms under optimum technical conditions. Apart from the changing exhibitions, the study hall provides additional access to the collection, or at least to those works which can be presented without any conservatorial misgivings. Such a direct artistic experience is an opportunity not to be missed!