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450 Jahre aufgeschlossen in the Grünes Gewölbe | 30.06.2022.—31.10.2022

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450 years ago, on 19 March 1572, Elector August of Saxony (1526-1586) appointed his first Kunstkämmerer and thus placed his extensive collection of hand tools, instruments, automata and clocks in professional hands. This event marked the beginning of the institutional history of the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD), as step by step the Kunstkammer now opened up to an interested public.

Image. above: Kammerherrnschlüssel, Dresden, vor 1688 Rüstkammer © SKD, Foto: Rüstkammer

In a symbolic act, the Elector entrusted David Uslaub, an accomplished cabinetmaker and screwmaker, with the responsibility for the care, order and inventory of his collection: “he shall have the key to such a chamber of art,” reads the certificate of appointment, which is now in the Dresden Main State Archives. From this point on, the Kunstkammer was transformed from a purely private place of work and research for the Elector into an institution that not only became known in aristocratic circles, but also increasingly attracted the attention of a public interested in art.

DEEDS NEWS Gruenes Gewoelbe 450 Jahre aufgeschlossen SKD, Foto Juergen Karpinski 2
Hobel, wohl Nürnberg, um 1570 Rüstkammer © SKD, Foto: Jürgen Karpinski

Back in 2010, the SKD celebrated a special event with the exhibition “Future since 1560”: the founding date of the Kunstkammer, which has been handed down since the first published description of the Dresden collections. However, Elector August had begun collecting long before and had taken over from his ancestors the holdings of the Armoury and the Coin Cabinet, which had existed for decades. The year 1572, on the other hand, is the first documented (key) event: the beginning of the museum tradition of today’s association.

DEEDS NEWS Gruenes Gewoelbe 450 Jahre aufgeschlossen Ruestkammer Staatliche Kunstsammlungn Dresden Foto Hans Peter Klut
Lucas Cranach d. J., Kurfürst August von Sachsen, 1565© Rüstkammer, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Foto: Hans-Peter Klut

The SKD is now paying tribute to Saxony’s first art treasurer and the anniversary of the handover of the keys in several collection presentations. For example, a rich selection of the unique tool and instrument treasure of Elector August is on permanent display in the exhibition “World View and Knowledge around 1600” in the Residence Palace. In addition, since 16 March the exhibition “Hofkunst für die Sächsische Schweiz. The Lohmen Altar by Heinrich Göding the Elder”. provides an insight into the early days of the Dresden Kunstkammer. From 3 May, the exhibition “The Elector as Gardener. Useful and Curious Things from the Saxon Court Gardening” at Hartenfels Palace in Torgau, where the commitment of August and his wife Anne of Denmark to Renaissance horticulture is honoured.

DEEDS NEWS Gruenes Gewoelbe 450 Jahre aufgeschlossen SKD, Foto Juergen Karpinski-min
Gartenwerkzeuge aus der Dresdner Kunstkammer Deutsch, um 1560-1580
© SKD, Foto: Jürgen Karpinski

Parallel to the large exhibition of automata “The Key to Life” in the Kunsthalle in the Lipsius Building, the exhibition “450 Years Opened! From the First Art Chamberlain to the Online Collection” in the Sponsel Room of the New Green Vault in the Residence Palace. The focus is on David Uslaub and his appointment in 1572, key stories from the Dresden treasuries will be told, never-before-seen, artistically executed Renaissance and Baroque keys and locks will be presented and many a secret of forged keys will be revealed…


Exhibition dates: Thursday, 30 June – Monday, 31 October

regular € 14, reduced € 10.50, under 17 free, from 10 pers. € 12.50


Taschenberg 2
01067 Dresden

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