Der berühmte Canaletto-Blick als Kupferstich. Dresden mit prominenter Hofkirche und Frauenkirche ist vom rechten Elbufer unterhalb der Augustusbrücke zu sehen.
© SKD, Foto: Renate Schurz


“State of the Art since 1560”: This was the motto of the celebrations surrounding the 450th anniversary of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) in 2010.


The museum complex comprises a total of fifteen museums, which are among the most significant and oldest in Europe, and were the first to open their collections to the public. The origins of the SKD can be seen mainly in the sixteenth-century Kunstkammer of the Saxon electors. Set up initially as a universal collection, the emphasis was on technical devices, tools, instruments, clocks and automata. Here the desire for costly and unusual things met an enthusiasm for technological innovation.

Passion for art

It was above all August the Strong (1670–1733), Elector of Saxony and later King of Poland who furthered the systematic development of the holdings. Having travelled to Versailles, he had become acquainted with the splendour of the Sun King, the absolute monarch, and had something similar in mind for his residence. He established the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault), the Skulpturensammlung (Sculpture Collection) and the Kupferstich-Kabinett (Cabinet of Prints and Drawings), and passionately collected porcelain and precious objects. In this way he laid the foundation stone for a museum structure which can still be recognized today. His son August III greatly expanded the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) and, by the mid-eighteenth century, had turned it into one of the most significant paintings galleries in Europe.

Umkränzt von den Herrschinsignien lässt sich August der Starke in vollem Machtbewusstsein inszenieren
© SKD, Foto: Jürgen Karpinski
Louis de Silvestre, König August II. von Polen, um 1723

ongoing process

Saxony and its art collections survived the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), but with great losses. Paintings had to be sold and silverwork melted down. In 1831, the daily operations of the museums came to be financed by the public purse and two years later the Königliches Historisches Museum (Royal Historical Museum), which had developed from the armoury, was added to the collections shown at the Zwinger. By 1855, the gallery building designed by Gottfried Semper completed and closed off the Zwinger grounds toward the Elbe River, and even in those early days the Sistine Madonna by Raphael was presented prominently in a room of its own. In 1891, under the direction of archaeologist Georg Treu, the Albertinum was opened, showing ancient sculptures and plaster casts.

aus der Vogelperspektive ist das Dresdner Residenzschloss in schwarz-weiß zu sehen, oberhalb in alter Schrift die Nennung "Kurfürstliche Residenz"
© SKD, Foto: Herbert Boswank
Schneider, Georg Jakob: "Das kurfürstliche Residenzschloss zu Dresden"


reconstruction and building anew

With German reunification, it became possible to begin the reconstruction of the Dresden Residenzschloss as a residence for the arts and sciences, which had been initiated in East Germany. Looking at some of the events of the past few years gives a vivid impression of how the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden keep changing.
Since 1 November 2016, Marion Ackermann has been Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.


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