How the ‘König-Albert-Museum’ became the Kunstsammlungen

The representative building was opened in 1914 according to the plans of Richard Schiffner, an architect from Zittau in Eastern Saxony. Nonetheless the foundations had been set as early as 1897 with the so-called ‘König Albert Donation’ resolved by the Zwickau city council in order to host the meanwhile numerous collections. For more than 10 years the citizens of Zwickau raised funds for their museum. Following a two-year construction period its grand opening was celebrated on 23 April 1914.

The first exhibition, taking place in the large glass-roofed rooms of the north wing, presented all acquired artworks of the municipal collection of paintings which had been hosted in the building of the art association (today the art gallery ‘Galerie am Domhof’, Domhof 2) so far. The west wing hosted the collections of antiquities and sacred art, the mineral collection of Ernst Julius Richter and the collection of the Robert Schumann Museum. The holdings of the ‘Ratsschulbibliothek’ as well as a representative reading hall had been given a new place in the east wing of the building. With the appointment of Hildebrand Gurlitt (1895–1956), a young art historian from Dresden, in 1925 the museum started to purposefully built a modern art collection. But Gurlitt was already dismissed in 1930 – an early sign of the worsening political climate of those days. Museum and library are still united under one roof. Since the Schumann Museum moved to the reconstructed birthplace of the composer in 1956 and the collection regarding the local history of Zwickau is hosted within the museum complex ‘Priesterhäuser’ since 2003, the former ‘König-Albert-Museum’ nowadays focuses on its art collection and the unique Max-Pechstein-Museum.

Thanks to the historical structure of the building the museum is able to present its art and natural history collections in various settings within an impressive historic Monument.