Becoming the Kupferstich-Kabinett

A Brief Chronology

1560: Augustus, the ruler of Saxony (r. 1553–86), establishes the Kunstkammer—a cabinet of curiosities housing natural history specimens, scientific instruments, precious objects, sculpture, prints, and drawings.

1720: Augustus II, known as Augustus the Strong (r. 1694–1733), orders the reorganization of the rapidly growing Kunstkammer collection. The edict leads to the consolidation of the court’s extensive holdings of works on paper and marks the official establishment of the Dresden Kupferstich-Kabinett.

1728: During the eighteenth century, the museum focuses on expanding its print holdings. The 1728 acquisition of more than ten thousand works collected by the Leipzig alderman Gottfried Wagner (1652–1725) lays the foundation for the Dresden collection of drawings, which continues to grow in the following centuries.

1898: The Kupferstich-Kabinett sets up a photography department, becoming the first German art museum to actively collect in this field.

1919–33: Following World War I, the museum intensifies its focus on collecting contemporary drawings and prints. Many works acquired during this period are no longer in the Dresden collection due to confiscations by the Nazi regime during the late 1930s.

1942: As fighting escalates during World War II, the complete holdings of the Kupferstich-Kabinett are transported to a safekeeping repository at the Weesenstein Castle, twelve miles south of Dresden. There, the works survive the bombing raids of February 1945, which largely destroy the complex of buildings housing the museum.

2004: The Kupferstich-Kabinett finds a permanent home at the newly restored Dresden