Save with combination tickets to see the magnificent Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden (State Art Collections) in museums in the Zwinger, Residenzschloss, and Albertinum.
The museums of the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) are mainly housed in three buildings in Dresden’s old town: the Residenzschloss (Palace), Zwinger, and the Albertinum. The magnificent collections include not only paintings (old masters, impressionist, modern) and sculptures but also a huge collection of porcelain, prints, coins, and one of the largest and finest treasuries in the world. Scientific instruments and weaponry on display are as much art as practical instruments. Long opening hours and a variety of ticket combination offers make it easy to see the art and cultural objects in Dresden. The two-day Dresden Museum Card is a good deal that includes all the main museums.
Dresden State Art Collections
The Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) is one of the finest collections of art and cultural objects in Germany. At its core are the fabulous collections of the Kings of Saxony but many further items were added since the end of the monarchy in 1918.
Only a small fraction of this collection of several million individual items are on display in mostly three venues in central Dresden. The Residenzschloss is used for the magnificent treasury, the large prints and drawings collection, coins, and the extensive armory. Fine arts are spread over two venues: post-1800 paintings and sculptures are in the Albertinum while earlier works are in the Zwinger, where visitors may also admire the world-famous porcelain collection and exquisitely decorated scientific instruments.
Museums in the Residenzschloss in Dresden
Dresden’s Renaissance Residenzschloss (City Palace / Royal Castle) was extensively damaged in 1945 but rebuilding was completed recently. This town palace was long the main residence of the Wettinger dynasty that ruled Saxony (originally Meißen) from 1089 to 1918.
The museums in the Residenzschloss are mostly of cultural-historic items and the fabulous treasury:
- The Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) contains one of Europe’s most important treasuries. The collection is divided into two parts: the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe (Historical Green Vaults) is housed in the original sumptuous Baroque rooms (and may only be seen on special tickets) while the Neues Grünes Gewölbe (New Green Vault) is in modern display rooms and open to all visitors.
- The Rüstkammer (Armoury) has a vast collection of especially decorative hunting and tournament weaponry.
- The Kupferstich-Kabinett (Collection of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs) includes over 500,000 works by 11,000 artists.
- The Münzkabinett (Coin Cabinet) has over 300,000 coins, notes, and related items.
- Hausmannsturm — the tall palace tower offers fine panoramic views of Dresden.
Museums in the Zwinger, Dresden in Saxony, Germany
The Zwinger, a Baroque pleasure palace, now houses several important museums:
- The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) is arguably the best museum in Dresden. It has paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries – the stars of the collection are Raphael’s Sistine Madonna and two paintings by Vermeer.
- Skulpturensammlung bis 1800 (Sculpture Collection up to 1800) — a vast collection of sculptures from 3000 BC to around 1800 beautifully displayed in special halls as well as with the old masters’ paintings.
- The Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection) has over 8,000 Meissen pieces as well as a wealth of Chinese and Japanese porcelain.
- The Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Mathematics and Scientific Collection) is a wonderful collection of fantastically decorated scientific instruments and watches from a period when science and art were not strictly divided disciplines.
Dresden State Art Collections – Museums in the Albertinum
Art collections newer than around 1800 are on display in the Albertinum. The two main collections are:
- The Galerie Neue Meister (New Masters Gallery) of 19th and 20th-century paintings, including a renowned collection of German romantic and impressionist paintings.
- The Skulpturensammlung ab 1800 (Sculpture Collection from 1800).
Other Dresden State Art Collection Museums
Some further venues in Dresden that are used for temporary and less famous collections include:
- The Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau — the instantly recognizable building with the glass citrus-press glass cupola between the Frauenkirche and Brühlscher Terrasse is used for temporary exhibitions.
- The Museum für Sächsische Volkskunst mit Puppentheatersammlung (Museum of Saxon Folk Art with the Puppet Theater Collection) is housed in the Jägerhof in Dresden-Neustadt.
- Japanisches Palais (Japanese Palace) in Dresden-Neustadt is mostly used for special exhibitions.
- The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) is in the Pillnitz Palace along the Elbe upstream from Dresden.
Dresden State Art Collection Museums – Opening Hours
The museums of the Dresden State Art Collections are open usually from 10 am to 6 pm. Museums in the Residenzschloss are closed on Tuesday while the galleries in the Zwinger, Albertinum, and smaller venues are closed on Monday.
Time-slot reservation tickets are only required for the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe, which are sometimes open in the evenings too.
Dresden State Art Collections – Ticket Prices
Admission tickets to the Dresden State Art Collections are no longer the absolute bargain of a few years ago but visitors may still see a lot of quality art for relatively cheap tickets, especially when making use of combination tickets. Admission remains free for children up to 18.
Note: Admission to the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe is NOT included in any passes other than the annual ticket (Jahreskarte — €75). The Historisches Grünes Gewölbe can only be seen on time-specific tickets (€14) — book well in advance during the high season.
A day ticket (Tageskarte) is €24 and gives access to all museums and exhibitions of the SKD. Many visitors may get better value out of the tourist office’s Dresden Museums Card — €25 but valid for two consecutive days and including free admission to all SKD museums as well as further savings deals. (The Dresden Museum Card is available online too but a paper printout is essential!)
Haustickets give admission for the day to all museums and exhibitions in the specified building. The ticket price is €14 for either the Residenzschloss or Zwinger and €12 for the Albertinum. Only some of the smaller museums in these buildings may be seen on a separate ticket (€6 each) including the Kupferstichkabinett, Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, and the Porzellansammlung.
Not part of the SKD collection but a very interesting museum in Dresden is the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr – Military History Museum of the Federal (German) Armed Forces. It is more commonly simply referred to as the Kriegsmuseum or War Museum. This museum is one of very few in Germany that actually has German war equipment from the First and Second World Wars on display.