Today's Albertinum has little in common with the gabled Zeughaus, or arsenal, that was built between 1559 and 1563 and fulfilled important military functions over the following centuries. The most important remaining architectural features of the Renaissance building with its immense ground-floor vaults are the basement, the two-aisled hall with Tuscan pillars on the ground floor, two portals and parts of the rusticated façade. In the late 19th century a new arsenal was built in the Albertstadt district of Dresden and the old Zeughaus was no longer needed for its original purpose. In just four years (1884-1887) the building was converted for use as a museum to house the Skulpturensammlung. It was given its present Neo-Renaissance appearance and named after the reigning monarch at the time, King Albert of Saxony.
In the bombing of Dresden in 1945 the Albertinum was less severely damaged than the city's other museum buildings. When the works of art that had been confiscated by the Red Army and transported to the Soviet Union after the war were returned to Dresden in the 1950s, the Albertinum became the collecting point for the art treasures. In the damaged building exhibitions were held of the precious objects belonging to the Grünes Gewölbe, of sculptures and porcelain, of coins and medals from the Münzkabinett, and of treasures from the Rüstkammer. The museums presented their most beautiful items together. The Porzellansammlung and the Rüstkammer soon moved out, but the others remained. After the restoration of the upper floor (1961-65) they were joined by the Galerie Neue Meister. In 2004 and 2006 respectively, the Münzkabinett and the Grünes Gewölbe moved into new premises in the Residenzschloss. Today the Albertinum is home to the Galerie Neue Meister and the Skulpturensammlung, two of Dresden's most illustrious art museums.