A network of collections which have developed gradually over a long period of time forms the basis of the museum's function as a scientific archive and centre for research into the history of writing, books and paper and as a vibrant location for exhibitions and information on book and media culture. The State of Saxony laid the foundations for the collection of prints in 1886 when it purchased the 3,000 historical copies of the Dresden tailor, publisher and book collector Heinrich Klemm's extensive collection. Numerous, and in some cases substantial, donations of major collections played an important role in the systematic expansion of the holdings (see Chronicle).
The museum suffered heavy losses in the Second World War. The most valuable items of the Klemm collection were in storage elsewhere at the time (manuscripts, incunabula including a 42-line Gutenberg Bible and a valuable collection of book cover and cloth prints) and were confiscated by the Soviet occupying force in September 1945. These holdings have been held ever since by the Russian State Library in Moscow.
Today the museum's stocks encompass over a million exhibits, safeguarded in the ideal environment of the modern stores in the annex building of the German National Library. Historical prints and modern book art, individual graphic sheets and series, watermarks, decorated paper, paper samples and sample books, records and documents on the history of books and paper, early writing surfaces and book forms, writing instruments, small graphic utensils and machines for the manufacture of fonts, books and paper are at the heart of the highly informative collection of samples. In their specifics and interconnected content, the collections and the reference library provide an extraordinarily complex and interdisciplinary insight into book, writing and paper-related issues which also takes into account the historical contexts in terms of culture, media and communication.
Last update: 21.6.2012