All world collections and state art collections

State Art Collections

The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden is a group of internationally renowned Dresden art museums with a great variety of exhibitions that are overseen by the Ministry of Science and Culture of the German state of Saxony.

The “Dresden State Art Collections” are housed in many buildings in Dresden. These are primarily the Zwinger, but also the Dresden Residence Castle, the Albertinum Museum, Pilnitz Castle and the “Hunting Yard”. The history of the Dresden State Art Collections goes back to the Kunstkammer, founded by the Saxon electors in the 16th century.

In 2001 the organization was included in the “Blue Book”, a list of the most important cultural institutions of the “new” German states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. In the list of twenty organizations, the Dresden collections are in second place after the Prussian Castles and Gardens Berlin-Brandenburg Foundation.

Picture Galleries


  • Museum of Physics and Mathematics (antique clocks and instruments)
  • Porcelain Museum
  • Museum of Coins and Awards (coins, orders and medals)
  • Saxon Folk Museum
  • Puppet and Marionette Museum
  • Museum of Sculpture


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Government Art Collection

Lord Byron in Albanian Dress by Thomas Phillips, 1813, one of the works of art in the Government Art Collection, exhibited for several decades at the Venizelos Mansion in Athens, residence of the British Ambassador to Greece.

The Art Collection Government (GAC) is the British Government’s art collection held by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). GAC works are used to decorate major government buildings in Britain and around the world and to promote British art, culture and history. The GAC currently holds more than 14,000 works of art in various media, including some 2,500 oil paintings, as well as sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, textiles, and video works, mostly by British artists or artists with close ties to Britain. The works are on view from the sixteenth century to the present day. The works are exhibited in several hundred locations, including Downing Street, ministerial offices and reception halls in Whitehall, regional government offices in Britain and diplomatic representations outside Britain.



The GAC dates its creation to 5 December 1899 when Reginald Brett, Second Viscount Esher , Permanent Secretary in the Office of Works , wrote to Sir Francis Mowott , Permanent Secretary to the Treasury , in which it was proposed to spend £150 to purchase five paintings for the Foreign Office , arguing that this expenditure would save a large sum of money that would otherwise have been spent on decoration . Up to the end of the 19th century, government ministers and ambassadors could decorate their rooms with their personal art collections, but the GAC became more important as the social background of people holding public office changed in the 20th century, which meant that this could no longer be expected.

In 1935 Her Majesty’s Treasury authorized an annual “picture fund” of £250 for the purchase of works of art to decorate diplomatic posts outside Britain on the recommendation of the “Committee on Foreign Photographs,” which included the directors of the major public London collections of the National Gallery. , London , the Tate Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery . Initially, most of the works he purchased were historical portraits, such as the portraits of Charles II by Thomas Hawker , and James II by Kneller . In addition to buying the works, the GAC also received many significant donations, including directly from the artist.

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The first curator of the collection, Richard Perry Bedford, was appointed in 1946; he was succeeded in 1949 by Richard Walker, who served until 1976 and expanded the collection from a few hundred to more than 8,000 works. The GAC expanded to include more contemporary works: its first work by a living artist was John Nash’s Ripe Corn, acquired in the 1940s; and John Piper was commissioned to create new works for the British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro in 1949. By the 1970s, the GAC’s contemporary artwork had outnumbered the historical works.

Dr. Wendy Baron served as director of the GAC from 1978 to 1997, followed by Penny Johnson . In 1981, the collection was named the “Government Art Collection.”

Other government agencies had their own collections, different from the GAC. For example, the Department of Defense had a separate art collection, which in 2017 was distributed to other public galleries and collections, including the GAC.

The collection

The collection includes works by many famous British artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, including works by Peter Lely , Godfrey Kneller , James Thornhill , William Hogarth and John Constable , Victorian artists such as William Powell Frith and Lucien Pissarro , 20th century painters such as John Nash and Paul Nash , Laura Knight , L. S. Lowry, Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Lucien Freud, Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi, David Hockney and Elizabeth Frink as well as more contemporary artists such as Emma Kay, Zarina Bhimji, Yinka Shonibare, Michael Landy, Grayson Perry, Chris Ofili, Lubaina Himid, Rachel Whitride, Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. The oldest work is a portrait of Henry VIII, dated between 1527 and 1550. The collection also includes reproductions of caricatures by artists such as James Gillray , George Cruikshank and Victor Weiss , as well as caricatures by Carlo Pellegrini (“Monkey”) and Sir from Punch magazine. Leslie Ward (“Spy”).

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About two-thirds of the collection is on display in government buildings, some items are on loan for exhibitions, and the remainder is in premises in central London for conservation or awaiting re-display. Until 2020 the main premises were at the Royal Court near Tottenham Court Road, but there are plans to move to new premises in Whitehall in 2020. Wherever possible, the GAC provides artworks for exhibitions in public museums and galleries throughout the UK and abroad. GAC also collaborates with other departments, such as the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in commissioning new works of art. The GAC has two casts of a bust of Winston Churchill by Jacob Epstein, one of which has twice been loaned to the White House.

The GAC has commissioned a public art program of seven contemporary artists in the Home Office building in central London, as well as new commissions for its interior spaces. In 2005 new artworks were commissioned for the offices of the Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai (formerly Madras ); and for the European Commission office in Brussels . Commissions were completed at the DCMS between 2006 and 2007 and at the Ministry of Justice (formerly the Department of Constitutional Affairs) in 2009 and in London.

The collection continues to be enriched by works of art. In 2008, the GAC received £551,000 annually from the government, which includes an acquisition budget of £220,000.

Advisory Committee.

Purchases and commissions are made with the support and consent of the Advisory Committee for the Government Art Collection, whose members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport . The Advisory Committee is currently chaired by Sir David Wereyski and includes five ex-officio members (Directors of the National, National Portrait and Tate Galleries as well as the GAC Director and a senior civil servant from DCMS), together with several additional independent members.

    Examples of work from the GAC
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Portrait of Elizabeth I (circa 1585-1595) At the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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