May 03, 2024

Dresden’s museums: A cultural journey through the Saxon capital

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Introduction to Dresden's museums

Dresden, the historic capital of Saxony, is not only celebrated for its architectural beauty and vibrant cultural scene but also for its impressive array of museums that capture the essence of its rich history and artistic heritage. The city offers a diverse range of museums, from classical art collections to interactive science exhibits, ensuring that every visitor finds something to spark their interest. The collections are housed in historical buildings, about which you can learn a lot during tours with Walkative guides. 

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Dresden Royal Palace: A hub of historical treasures

Royal Palace Dresden

Dresden Royal Palace

One of the premier cultural landmarks in Dresden is the Dresden Royal Palace, home to several significant exhibitions: the Green Vault, the Armoury, the Numismatic Cabinet and the Copperplate Cabinet. The Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe) is one of Europe’s oldest museums, established in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, who transformed the treasury of the Wettin dynasty into a public museum. Today, the historic Green Vault and the New Green Vault can be visited. The historic Green Vault contains more than 3,000 objects testifying to the extraordinary precision and craftsmanship skills of the masters of the respective eras. Masterpieces of craftsmanship are housed in Baroque ornate chambers equipped as in the time of Augustus the Strong with mirrors, which further emphasise the richness of this place. In the New Green Vault (Neues Grünes Gewölbe), a newly adapted room, more than 1,000 objects made of gold, silver, precious stones and ivory from the period after the reign of Augustus the Strong are on display.

The Copperplate Cabinet exhibits more than half a million drawings, photographs and prints from the Middle Ages to the present day. Its collections include works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Francisco Goya and even Michelangelo. Works by artists associated with Dresden such as Caspar David Friedrich and Käthe Kollwitz are also part of this exhibition.

Another exhibition in the residence castle worth visiting is the Armoury (Rüstkammer). It includes not only ornate swords or armour made of precious metals, but also exquisite clothing or equestrian equipment. The Turkish chamber contains one of the most valuable collections of Ottoman art outside Turkey. The castle space is also no shortage of attractions for fans of ancient coins - the Numismatic Cabinet contains some 300,000 objects representing times from antiquity to the present day.

Zwinger: A celebration of art and science



The Walkative tour ends in one of Dresden's most spectacular buildings, the so-called Zwinger. This monument is not only one of the finest examples of late Baroque architecture, but also a renowned haven for art. The former Orangery houses the Porcelain Collection. Objects made of Chinese porcelain form only part of the exhibition. The most fascinating part, however, is located in the Menagerie. Animals made from the so-called first European porcelain, the recipe for which was invented in Dresden, distinguish this collection from other porcelain collections. It is no coincidence that the first European porcelain was invented here in Dresden - interest in science was very high at the court of Augustus the Strong. The ruler's court was very passionate about alchemy at the time, but not only, as can be seen by visiting the Mathematics and Physics Salon. It is also located in the former Orangery of the Zwinger complex. Battery prototypes, models of the cosmos, artistic clocks and many other objects connected with 18th century science are presented in the Mathematical and Physical Salon. Every first Sunday of the month from 15:00 to 18:00, the museum offers free admission to the Porcelain Collection, and every fourth Sunday of the month at the same time to the Mathematics and Physics Salon.

Semper Gallery and Albertinum

Albertinum Dresden

Albertinum in Dresden

The Semper Gallery, located right next to the Zwinger palace complex, houses the Old Masters Gallery and a huge collection of sculptures. The Old Masters Gallery exhibits paintings by world-famous painters who lived between the 16th and 18th centuries. Famous paintings such as Raffael's ‘Sistine Madonna’ or Canaletto's ‘Dresden from the other side of the Elbe’ are part of this collection. In the Ancient Room, one can see sculptures created between the year 300 and 500 after the birth of Christ, made of marble or bronze, as well as Egyptian mummies. The collection of modern sculptures dates back to the year 1800. 

A continuation of the exhibition in the Old Masters Gallery is the Young Masters Gallery located in the Albertinum. The collection of paintings begins with works by artists who lived in the 19th century and ends with paintings by contemporary artists. The tour begins with the picturesque, mysterious landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich and continues with art created during the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and the era of the German Democratic Republic. Paintings by the now world-famous Gerhard Richter, whose career began in Dresden in the GDR, are also part of the exhibition.

The Albertinum also houses the collection of sculptures created after the year 1800. The Albertinum can be visited for free from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every third Sunday of the month.

Neustadt's Jägerhof and Erich Kästner Museum

Jägerhof Dresden

Jägerhof in Dresden Neustadt. Photo by SchiDD, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, Wikimedia Commons

In another part of the city - Neustadt - there is an interesting exhibition of Saxon folk art presented in the hunting manor (Jägerhof). It features more than 27,000 objects of great artistic value from various regions of Saxony, including a collection of puppet theatre marionettes. The exhibition can be viewed for free from 3pm to 6pm every second Sunday of the month. 

One of Dresden's most recognisable personalities is Erich Kästner, author of fairy tales and children's stories that have been translated into 70 languages. The building where he spent his childhood now houses a museum and an exhibition dedicated to his biography and works. 

Museum of Military History: Reflecting on the impact of conflict

The museums in Dresden not only offer a great lesson in art history, but also raise awareness of important topics. One of these is cruelty associated with wars, which is depicted in the Museum of Military History. The exhibits presented in the museum describe 700 years of war history from the Middle Ages to the present day. This museum is not only a collection of military equipment, but above all a story about witnesses, about executioners and victims. The history of conflicts and violence is centred on people and their experiences, showing the cruelty of wars, while objects such as prosthetic legs, created for young men maimed in battle, or the specially created smell of trenches illustrate the horrific reality of armed conflicts.

Technische Sammlungen Dresden: A modern take on science and technology

Technische Sammlungen Dresden

Exhibition in Technische Sammlungen Dresden. Photo by MuseenDresden, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, Wikimedia Commons

It is not without reason that Dresden is known as Saxony's Silicon Valley. You can best convince yourself of this by visiting the Technische Sammlungen Dresden. The interactive science centre is designed and tailored to be visited even by the youngest visitors interested in technology, electronics and natural sciences. This museum is sure to satisfy the needs of the youngest and most demanding visitors and is an interesting proposition for families.


Dresden’s museums reflect the city’s past from its royal ambitions to its scientific innovations and its poignant war-time experiences. Each institution, with its distinct focus and extensive collections, invites visitors to immerse themselves in the narratives that have sculpted Dresden and the broader historical landscape. From royal treasures and artistic masterpieces to poignant reflections on conflict and cutting-edge scientific explorations, these museums offer a comprehensive and enriching experience for every visitor. Whether you are a history buff, art lover, or a family seeking educational entertainment, Dresden’s museums offer enriching experiences that promise to deepen your appreciation of this magnificent city and its heritage.