As one of the first cultural institutions in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Transport Museum was founded in 1952 in direct connection with the establishment of the University of Transportation (Hochschule für Verkehrswesen) after the Second World War. However, its roots can be traced back to 1877, when the collection that later became the Saxon Railway Museum (from 1902) was started. The museum was first situated on Wiener Straße, moving to the Dresden-Neustadt train station in 1921.
In 1954, the Johanneum building on Neumarkt square, which had been severely damaged in the bombing raids of 1945, was given to the Transport Museum to use as an exhibition space. Today a listed building, this Renaissance building dating back to 1586 has been linked to transport ever since it was first constructed, having been used as a stable for the Saxon court.
To celebrate Dresden’s 750-year jubilee, the first exhibition opened in 1956 entitled “120 Years of Saxon Transport History”. The permanent exhibitions were gradually introduced as the Johanneum underwent reconstruction. The railway exhibition came first in 1958, followed by the exhibition on the history of navigation one year later.
Today, the Transport Museum brings together exhibitions on the four branches of transport under one roof: road, rail, air and water. There is also a space for special exhibitions and an adventure zone for children. As of 2012, the exhibitions on aviation, road transport, navigation and railway transport have all been completely reworked.
The Transport Museum has been a non-profit limited liability company (gGmbH) since 2006. Shareholders include the City of Dresden and the Transport Museum Support Society (Gesellschaft zur Unterstützung des Verkehrsmuseum).