The collection consists of over 17,000 casts of the gems on display in different European museums and private collections. Gems are small gemstones, usually semi-precious, that have been carved with an image and which were used in Antiquity as seals, jewellery stones and portraits. Their collection began during the Renaissance due to the valuable material and attractive images. In the 18–19th centuries, the gems began to be examined more closely, they were systematised into collections, the collection catalogues were published and plaster, sulphur and even seal-varnish casts of gems were made and traded. Morgenstern, the Director of the Museum at the beginning of the 19th century, bought numerous casts of gems packed into beautiful book-shaped boxes and dresser-style boxes.
The miniature images were a chance to learn more about antique art, daily life and history. The casts of gems are sometimes on display at temporary exhibitions.
You can also purchase copies of the gems in the Museum’s souvenir shop.