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My header is a view of the dome of the Albertinum Museum in Dresden, Saxony, Germany, also known as the SKD or Staaliche Kunstsaamlungen Dresden. It is a group of several museums in the city all situated within a short walking distance from each other.

The Kunstkammer, which was situated in the Dresden royal palace. Based on late Renaissance thinking, the Kunstkammer was a universal collection with an encyclopaedic approach and a strong focus on various instruments and technological innovations. 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). Ever since taking office, August the Strong supported the systematic development of his holdings. He passionately collected porcelain and precious items. Around 1720, the first special collections – among them the Grüne Gewölbe, the Skulpturensammlung and the Kupferstich-Kabinett – were arranged under his supervision. We have to thank his son for the extension of the old master’s gallery, which became one of the most important galleries in Europe through the purchase of entire collections in the mid-18th century. Last but not least, the Dresden collections range among those which were first opened to a limited audience. After the disastrous end of the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), decades of stagnation followed for the collections. Only were these difficulties surmounted with the collection reform designed by state secretary Bernhard August von Lindau and the construction of the new gallery building near the Zwinger (architect Gottfried Semper) in the mid-19th century. After the end of monarchy, the “Königliche Sammlungen für Kunst und Wissenschaft” (Royal Collections of Art and Science) were transformed into the “Staatliche Sammlungen für Kunst und Wissenschaft” (State Collections for Art and Science).
However, the character of the museum institution did not change and the scientific collections as well as the state library still belonged to the group. The museums of Dresden were integrated into the system of art robbery by the Nazis after 1933. From 1939 onwards, the gallery directors were also responsible for Hitler’s “Sonderauftrag Linz” (Special Commission Linz). Dresden was fire-bombed twice in the night of 14-15 February 1945, there was absolutely no military reason for this attack by the British since Dresden as a University and Cultural Town with no military value. Most of its population was burned to death in their beds and the city reduced to ashes. To see it today you would never believe that the city was completely destroyed in 1945 some 3 months before the end of the War.

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The majority of the art works was saved, because they had been previously evacuated from Dresden, but all the buildings were damaged to a great extent. After the end of the war, trophy commissions of the Red Army seized/stole the art works and transported them to the Soviet Union. The surprising return of the paintings in 1955/56 as well as the return of the majority of the remaining holdings in 1958 enabled the Dresden collections to build on with their past.

Wonderful museums, completely restored in recent years due to the reunification of Germany, I first saw Dresden in 1998, the city was in full restoration mode, incredible work going on, today it is a gem to behold. The city reeks of artworks and fine Porcelain, Meissen is just a few kilometres down the road and the Kings of Saxony loved fine Porcelain and devoted huge amounts of money in producing it, the museum in the Zwinger Palace is overwhelming.

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Restoration work is almost done in Dresden. I just love to visit this wonderful city, half way between Berlin and Munich in the Eastern part of Germany on the Elba River.

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No other painting has influenced our idea of Baroque Dresden as the vedute “Dresden seen from the right banks of the river Elbe below the bridge Augustus”, which was created by the Venetian artist Bernardo Bellotto in 1748.

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