The origins of the mineralogical collection go back till the time of the Electoral Art Chamber in the Dresden Castle in the 16th century, as minerals like the amethyst from Wiesenbad and jasper from Oberlungwitz near St. Egidien as well as the famous emerald specimen from Colombia, which adorns the “Moor” by Balthasar Permoser in the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) since 1724, were mentioned in the art chamber inventory of 1587.
Later additions were the silver specimens from the Saxon mines of which single pieces had already been described in the Electoral Art Chamber inventory compiled by art chamber officer Theodosius Häsel of 1640.
Over centuries, the collection which had been continuously maintained by a row of art chamber officers, inspectors and scientists (curators) grew to its current extent. Until 1765, the mining authorities were obliged to deliver ores and minerals to the mineral cabinet in the Dresden Zwinger, this source discontinued in the years that followed, and all new acquisitions had to be realized by purchase.
In 1806, the purchase of the mineral collection of Joseph Friedrich Baron of Racknitz (1744-1818) consisting of 5411 pieces with an estimated worth of then 14.632 Thalers was an important contribution to the collections of the mineral cabinet with local Saxon minerals, but also with an increase in pieces from all over the world.
Already around 1755, the silver specimens from Saxony had been exhibited separate from the foreign ones, above all, in order to make the basis for Saxony’s wealth at that time clear to the visitor. This separation into a national Saxon mineral collection and a systematic mineral collection, which was future-oriented and decisive in profile for the scientific development and which still remains valid today, happened under the directorship of Hanns Bruno Geinitz around 1852. At the end of Geinitz’s term of office in 1898 the collections enclosed approximately 14 800 minerals. Until 1945, the collection grew up to more than 37 000 mineral pieces.
The purchase of the mineral collection of the mining entrepreneur, collector and patron Dr. h.c. Richard Baldauf (1848-1931) in 1940 meant an increase of 10 000 objects. The purchase of this collection, which was amongst the nicest private collections from the first half of the 20th century, was one of the most extensive and most important acquisitions in the history of the museum.Among the numerous show pieces and academically valuable rarities from this collection
the famous “Baldauf silver” needs to be emphasized, a 24 x 12.5 x 19 centimeter silver specimen which was found in 1907 in the Himmelsfürst Mine near Brand-Erbisdorf and then was bought by Richard Baldauf in 1913.
After 1945, mostly regional mineral collections were acquired, like the Vogtland Collection from Albin Jahn (1886-1946), the Granulitgebirge Collection from Rudolf Nestler (1906-1974), the Osterzgebirge Collections from Carl Rau (1893-1975) and Carl August Morgenstern (1860-1929) as well as the Westerzgebirge Collection from Erich Donath (1900-1979). By purchasing the collection of the chemist Dr. H.-J. Jahn (born in 1927) in 1994 gaps in the systematic mineral collection could be closed. In 2008, the important agate and amethyst collection mainly from sites in the Osterzgebirge from Bernd Hentschelmann (born in 1950) was acquired.
There is also the collection of meteorites with documents of more than 200 meteorite falls and findings in more than 270 pieces which is set up alphabetically by fall place or site of discovery. Apart from meteorites from the early time of meteorite collecting at the end of the 18th century, this collection contains two Saxon meteorites with the main mass of the iron meteorite of Nenntmannsdorf near Pirna and a representative disc of the stony-iron meteorite of Rittersgrün in the Westerzgebirge.
Today more than 65 000 minerals are part of the mineralogical collections.