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Magnificent treasure chamber museum: Historisches Grünes Gewölbe opens on 15.09.2006

Walk-in safe containing nearly 3000 precious works of art / Royal treasure chamber covers an area of 1200 m2 in ten rooms / Advance ticket sales via Dresden-Werbung und Tourismus GmbH (Dresden Tourist Promotion Board)

 

Collecting treasures was a favourite hobby of royalty and aristocracy all over the world. And nearly every castle or palace had its treasure chamber, often located in dark basement vaults hidden behind thick walls.

Only an elect few had the privilege of seeing inside such places. The Saxon Elector Augustus II (1670 – 1733), however, was determined not only to turn Dresden into a magnificent city, a princely residence ranking among the most splendid in Europe.

He also wanted his treasure chamber to outshine anything boasted by other dynastic rulers. Over the decades of his reign he amassed immense treasures: masterpieces crafted by jewellers and goldsmiths, precious objects made of amber and ivory, vessels made of precious stones, exquisite bronze statuettes and objects made of exotic materials like coral and shells from the South Seas. It would have been a shame not to show them to a larger public.

On the ground floor of Dresden Palace (Residenzschloss), two floors below his representational rooms, he put his treasures on display. Some parts of the vaulted rooms, which were originally known as the ‘Geheime Verwahrung’ (Secret Store) were painted green, which accounts for the name ‘Grünes Gewölbe’ (Green Vault).

Augustus thus became one of the first museologists of modern times, having first divided his art collections into separate sections: paintings, porcelain, scientific instruments, etc.

Augustus died, but the collection of the Grünes Gewölbe survived the subsequent centuries despite war and plunder, and even the destruction of the Palace in 1945 and the collection’s removal to the Soviet Union at the end of the war, not to be returned until 1958.

Until the end of the 20th century a small selection of objects from the collection was exhibited in the Albertinum. But now the Grünes Gewölbe has returned to its original location in the Palace.

Court of Delhi on the Birthday of the Great Mogul

Johann Melchior Dinglinger’s “Court of Delhi on the Birthday of the Great Mogul”

 

To begin with, a part of the treasure chamber was opened in September 2004 on the first floor of the west wing. Such magnificent pieces as Johann Melchior Dinglinger’s “Court of Delhi on the Birthday of the Great Mogul” and the Golden Coffee Service, the cherry stone carved with “186 faces”, the grandiose ivory frigate, fantastic pearl figures and other amazing works of art are now on display there in a modern setting. This unique exhibition is known as the Neues Grünes Gewölbe (New Green Vault) and has already become a mecca for visitors to Dresden.

As part of the celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of the city of Dresden, Augustus the Strong’s historic treasure chamber museum, called the Historische Grüne Gewölbe (Historic Green Vault), will be reopening on the ground floor of the west wing on 15th September 2006.

Dresden’s treasure chamber will then be among the most magnificent and impressive in the world, rivalling those of the Tower of London, the Louvre in Paris or the Hermitage in St Petersburg.

The original rooms of the treasure chamber are currently being restored to the state in which Augustus the Strong proudly presented his collection to his guests: a Baroque synthesis of the arts of intentionally breath-taking splendour.

Approximately 100 restorers and sculptors, painters and craftsmen have recreated the splendid rooms on the basis of historic photographs and comparable examples. To do so, they have even had to relearn forgotten techniques. For example, large crystal mirrors with Baroque metallic background paint have been recreated on the walls. The paints used by court lacquer artist Christian Reinow were analysed and mixed to create 90 different hues for the artificial marbling alone.

When the work is complete, the New and the Historical Green Vault will together have cost a total of 41.6 million Euro. The cost of recreating the wall coverings of the Historical Green Vault alone has amounted to 12.3 million Euro.

When the new exhibition opens, this unique complex will house nearly 3000 masterpieces crafted by jewellers and goldsmiths, precious amber objects, ivory pieces and vessels made of gems – all presented in an overwhelmingly sumptuous setting.

The walk-in safe will be accessible only via a security gate where dust and dirt will be removed from visitors’ clothes and shoes, because the precious works of art will not be exhibited behind glass but on the open consoles of the display walls and on ornate tables. Only a glass barrier will separate visitors from the priceless works of art.

The Historische Grüne Gewölbe will consist of ten rooms: the Entrance Vault and Amber Room, the Ivory Room, White Silver Room, Gilded Silver Room, Jewellery Room, Heraldry Room, Gem Room, Bronze Room and Renaissance Bronze Room.

The highlights of the exhibition will include the jewellery garnitures containing precious gems such as diamonds, brilliants and rubies, as well as the figures depicting Moors created by Balthasar Permoser and decorated by Johann Melchior Dinglinger.

Since admission is limited to 100 visitors an hour, visits to the Historical Green Vault will only be possible with tickets bearing a specified admission time. Tickets can be purchased in advance from Dresden-Werbung und Tourismus GmbH.

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