Guido Lang (1856-1921), a seller of wood carvings, founded Oberammergau Museum in 1910. Originally named "Verleger Lang’sche kunst- und kulturgeschichtliche Oberammergauer Museum" (Oberammergau Lang’sche Art and Cultural Museum), it was set up to exhibit regional wood carvings and reverse glass paintings.
In 1904, Guido Lang commissioned the architect and folklorist Franz Zell (1866-1921) with the complex task of planning and creating the building, the interior and the displays. The building and the collection remained as they had been conceived by the founder and the architect until after the Second World War, but thereafter underwent constant change.
The municipality of Oberammergau acquired the museum in 1953. Two years later, it purchased another major collection for the museum, that of the Murnau master brewer Johann Krötz (1858–1919). The museum's collection of reverse glass paintings is now one of the largest in Europe. By the end of the 19th century, Krötz had acquired well over a thousand reverse glass paintings, mainly from the area around Staffelsee lake and Oberammergau. One reason the collection is so significant is that it is a very early but comprehensive collection in this field. Another is that the painters of the "Blauer Reiter" group, in particular Gabriele Münter (1877–1962), Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) and Franz Marc (1880-1916), took inspiration from the paintings they saw in Murnau.
The museum underwent extensive renovation work between 2002 and 2004 and the exhibition was reworked. The first floor of the museum, which has largely been maintained in its original condition, houses authentic historical rooms with more than 5000 wood carvings. Colourful painted toys, intricate carvings, figures of saints, crucifixes and now also works by 20th and 21st-century sculptors present a comprehensive picture of the artistic expertise and craftsmanship of Oberammergau carvers. The exhibition also gives visitors an insight into local social and economic history of the 18th and 19th centuries. A database now records over 1400 Oberammergau carvers and artists. Beyond the nativity scene collection is the multimedia room, where you can watch both new and historical films on carving and the history of the Passion Play.
The prehistory section "Die Römer in Oberammergau" ("The Romans in Oberammergau") has exhibits dating from 100 BC to 50 AD. These include offerings by the local Rhaetian population and a wide range of offensive weapons once used by Roman legionaries.
The museum has regular temporary exhibitions.