The Dresden art collections belong to the most renowned and oldest museum institutions in the world. In the 16th century, they emerged from the aristocratic collections. The Dresden collections received its unique character, which has been valid until today, through the art spirit of two electors: August the Strong (1679-1733, Elector of Saxony since 1694, King of Poland since 1697) and his son August III (1696-1763, Elector and King since 1733).
Today, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden consist of the following museums: the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault), the Kupferstich-Kabinett (Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs), the Münzkabinett (Coin Cabinet), the Rüstkammer (Armoury), the Staatliche Ethnographischen Sammlungen Sachsen (State Ethnographical Collections) with locations in Dresden, Leipzig and Herrnhut, the Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection), the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments), the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), the Skulpturensammlung (Sculpture Collection), the Galerie Neue Meister (New Masters Gallery), the Museum für Sächsische Volkskunst mit Puppentheatersammlung (Museum of Saxon Folk Art with Puppet Theatre Collection) as well as the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts). Moreover, the Kunstbibliothek (Art Library), the Kunstfonds (Art Fund) and the Gerhard Richter Archiv (Gerhard Richter Archive) are parts of the museum institution.
When Elector Augustus established the Art Chamber in 1560, he was laying the foundation for world-famous collections. Today, the Dresden State Art Collections are among the most important museums in the world. The individual museums are housed in prized buildings such as the Zwinger, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, the Albertinum, a former armory, and the Jägerhof, which stands on the site of the Augustinian monastery which Luther once visited. Once the reconstruction of Dresden Castle is finished, a journey through time will be possible to the Renaissance and Baroque. The State Art Collections feature the largest collection of pieces from the Reformation period. Thus Martin Luther’s signet ring, his sword and goblet are in the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault), the legendary treasure chamber of the Saxon Electors. The armory has ceremonial weapons with Reformation motifs and armor of Saxon rulers. And the Old Masters Picture Gallery houses a large collection of important paintings from the 16th century, including the largest collection of paintings from the Cranach workshop.