The Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen (Bavarian State Painting Collections) is the municipal authority that succeeded the “Centralgemaeldegaleriedirektion” (Central Painting Gallery Administration), which was established in the late 18th century after the stock of paintings owned by the Wittelsbacher family grew exceptionally large owing to the inheritance of the Mannheim and Zweibrueck Galleries. A short time later, at the beginning of the 19th century, the collection grew even further due to the secularization and acquisition of the Dusseldorf Gallery.

As a result of the augmented inventory, the location was changed. Having first been stored in the Neues Schloss Schleissheim (New Schleissheim Palace), between 1777 and 1782 a new gallery was erected for the paintings in the Hofgarten (court gardens) of the Residenz (Residence). The Alte Pinakothek was built from 1826 to 1836 , and in 1853 the “Neue” (New) Pinakothek was established for “contemporary” art of the times (destroyed 1944/45). Starting in 1919, the more modern works of the second half of the 19th century were exhibited in an exhibition structure at Koenigsplatz that was called the “Neue Staatsgalerie” (New State Gallery).

After the Second World War, the west wing of Haus der Kunst served as a provisional exhibition space for the main art works from all of the institutions. After the old master works were moved into the refurbished Alte Pinakothek (1957) and those of the 19th century relocated to the newly-built Neue Pinakothek (1981), the temporary space was turned over to the “Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst” (State Gallery for Modern Art) for its 20th century collection. In 2002 this collection – now called “Sammlung Moderne Kunst” (Modern Art Collection) – finally found its permanent home in the newly-opened Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich’s museum quarter “Kunstareal”, in the immediate vicinity of the Alte and Neue Pinakothek.

The collection profile of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen has altered with time, so that the name “painting collections” is only partially valid: Whereas the collection, until the 18th century, actually only consisted of paintings, today sculpture can also be found in the Neue Pinakothek. The traditional genre terms play only a secondary role for the 20th and 21st century collections, having given way to a changing art idiom: in addition to paintings, The Modern Art Collection contains photography and sculpture, as well as video and spatial installations.

The associated galleries of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen are located throughout Bavaria. Several hark back to the 19th century as, after the secularization in the entire former kingdom, alternative quarters were sought for the  state’s large inventory of artworks. A few of these galleries (for example in Bamberg and Augsburg) are even older than the Alte Pinakothek. Since the reorganization in the 1960s and 1970s the galleries have been exhibiting high quality collections that are suited to the respective region.