The display of jewels, goldsmith's work, enamels, crystal objects and ivories in the Treasury of the Munich Residence is the result of centuries of avid collecting by the rulers of Bavaria. In his will of 1565 Duke Albrecht V stipulated that particularly valuable ‘hereditary and dynastic jewels’ be united to form an unsaleable treasure.
Established in this way by the Wittelsbach family's first great patron and collector of art, the treasure was expanded by his son, Duke Wilhelm V, and by his grandson, Elector Maximilian I, and was maintained by Electors Maximilian Emanuel, Karl Albrecht und Maximilian Joseph III. Elector Karl Theodor enlarged the treasure in the late 18th century by transferring the treasure of the Palatine Wittelsbachs to Munich.
The treasure reached its full extent in the early 19th century, with the addition of the royal insignia of the newly created Kingdom of Bavaria and of several outstanding medieval works of art acquired as a result of the confiscation of church property in 1803.
Alongside this profane treasure the Munich Residence also possessed valuable liturgical implements and relics (housed in containers known as reliquaries). This sacred treasure had been acquired in the early 17th century by Wilhelm V and Maximilian I for the Court Chapel in the Residence. Like the profane treasure, it was maintained by successive Wittelsbach rulers and expanded in the early 19th century by examples of the medieval goldsmith's art confiscated from the Church. Some works in this collection were transferred to the Treasury in 1958.
In 1731 the Wittelsbach ancestral treasure was installed in a specially created cabinet (now the Porcelain Cabinet) adjoining the Ancestral Gallery. In 1897 it was moved to a new room (the Old Treasury, now the museum cash desk and shop) and opened to the public. On 21 June 1958 the Treasury was again made accessible to the public, reopened in ten rooms on the ground floor of the Royal Palace, along with the first section of the Residence museum to be restored after the Second World War.
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