Entering the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe through the museum’s state-of-the-art airlock, which protects the 3000 free-standing objects and allows for consistent climate control, visitors embark on a visual journey to the Baroque period. As early as 1724, the rooms of the Grünes Gewölbe were open to an exclusive public and people – “wearing clean clothes”, as the king desired – were admitted in small groups only, as they are today.
Today, visitors are provided with an audio guide to take on their tour of the treasury of August the Strong, which deliberately does not use museum labelling. This allows for an even more authentic experience of the spaces.
The names given to the eight rooms indicate the value of the exhibited objects: After the Bernsteinkabinett (Amber Cabinet) comes the neighbouring Elfenbeinzimmer (Ivory Room), followed by the Weißsilberzimmer (White Silver Room) and the Silbervergoldetes Zimmer (Silver Gilt Room). Visitors then enter the 200-square-metre space of the Pretiosensaal (Hall of Precious Objects) which holds gilded precious-stone vessels and valuable natural products such as ostrich eggs and rock crystals, along with the portraits of the Electors of Saxony who acquired these treasures.
To make this an accurate historical presentation, no showcases were used in the new design: Exhibits are shown on open shelves before a backdrop of exquisitely decorated walls.
Each room has more mirrors than the previous one, and this contributes to the opulent effect of this Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk. Only in the Juwelenzimmer (Jewel Room), the highlight of the treasury, are the pieces of jewellery shown under glass, as they always have been. This is where the famous Mohr mit Smaragdstufe (Moor with Emerald Cluster) created by Balthasar Permoser and Court Jeweller Johann Melchior Dinglinger is found.
To this day, the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe has not lost its significance for political representation: When the former US President Barack Obama first visited Germany, he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in the Saxon treasury, which Merkel had opened in 2006.
For reasons of conservation, the daily number of visitors allowed into the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe is limited. Visitors are advised to purchase their timed tickets in advance.