The Ducal Museum was built at the foot of Friedenstein Castle between 1864 and 1879 in an elegant and ornate Neo-Renaissance style. Both inside and out, the outstanding architecture has been preserved in exquisite detail. Renovated in recent years thanks to the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Free State of Thuringia and the City of Gotha, the building was newly reopened in 2013. Inside, Gotha’s unique art collections are now on display.
The holdings stem from the Dukes’ passion for collecting and today bring together Egyptian mummies, vases, sculptures and jewellery from antiquity, 18th-century cork models from antiquity, and artistic treasures from China and Japan. Amongst the highlights are surely the Dutch and German paintings, including works from Peter Paul Rubens, Jan van Goyen, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Caspar David Friedrich. The world-famous “Gothaer Liebespaar” (Gotha lovers), a mysterious and artistically outstanding painting predating Dürer, is unique. Works by Conrad Meit and Adriaen de Vries are also on exhibit here alongside sculptures Jean-Antoine Houdon: the largest collection in the world outside France of works by this sensitive classical French sculptor is found in Gotha. The ceramic collections in Gotha are also noteworthy, bringing together Italian majolica from the 16th century with Böttger-pottery and Meissen porcelain from the 18th century. In the colourful, light and airy rooms a historical, varied, and high-quality collection is displayed for a modern audience and invites young and old alike to discover.