The Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich City Museum) opened in 1888 following an initiative of city archivist Ernst von Destouches (1843–1916). After WWII, the building soon became an exhibition centre focusing on multiple aspects of the cultural heritage. Collections of photography and film were built up and presented to the public, something which had never been done by any other German museum before. Other collections like the ones of musical Instruments and puppet theatre already existed and were transferred to the building complex.
The Münchner Stadtmuseum is Germany's largest municipal museum, not only due to its spaciousness, but also to the extent of its collections. The fields of the collections range from graphic art, posters and paintings – mostly with motives connected to Munich –, to fashion, textile and objects of ethnological interest to statuary art and artisan craftwork as well as a substantial collection of furniture, including the period of Art Nouveau. The department of music provides access to a comprehensive collection of musical instruments spanning all continents. The exhibition rooms for the collection of puppet theatre and showmanship show Munich stages and puppets from all over the world that make the cultural history of puppetry come alive. The photography collection focuses on retrospective, but also on contemporary photography. A special highlight are the African Morris dancers by Erasmus Grasser (1450–1518), which are displayed in the permanent exhibition of city history called "Typically Munich!" The exhibition tries to explore, what characterizes Munich and since when and most of all why it does so. The exhibition "National Socialism in Munich" provides information about the rise of National Socialism in Munich in its local shape. The cinema of the Film Museum offers a program of film series with daily alternating screenings.
The impressive scale of the historically grown building complex of the Munich City Museum only becomes evident in the aerial view: it is a vast area of two interior courts framed by four buildings that differ a lot. The oldest building is the historic armory built in 1500 that makes the main facade of today’s museum face St.-Jakobs-Platz, but the Munich City Museum also extends to Rindermarkt with the collection complex erected by architect Gustav Gsaenger (1900–1989) towards the end of the 1950es and to Sebastiansplatz with the building erected in 1977 as a reconstruction of the medieval city stables.