The Architekturmuseum was established in 1868 as a teaching collection for students of architecture at the New Polytechnic College, the precursor to the present-day Technical University. When Friedrich von Thiersch erected a new building for the University in Gabelsbergerstrasse in 1912, the architectural collection was accommodated in a large, impressive wing that formed the center of the Department of Architecture.
Due to changes in the formal education of architects - drawings and models were replaced by photographs and glass negatives, and planning increasingly focused on constructional engineering - the historic model collection was used less and less for instructional purposes in the 20s and 30s. The collection gradually turned into an architectural archive and was used for scientific research purposes.
The timely evacuation of the architectural collection in the Second World War preserved the holdings from destruction. As the exhibition rooms of the collection had been completely demolished in the war, the salvaged treasures were put into steel cabinets after the war and disappeared into storerooms on the university premises.
Since 1975 the scientific special collection has continually and systematically been transposed into an archive with the function of a museum and made available to the general public. With plans for a new building and in an effort to document the character of a public cultural institution, the collection was renamed Museum of Architecture in 1989.
Since the university lacked appropriate exhibition halls and the collection had only marginal funds at its disposal, an arrangement was made with the Munich City Museum in 1977. Subsequently, almost every year an exhibition, shown in the City Museum, was compiled from the architectural collection. The City Museum assumed the costs of the exhibition and the catalogues. With the exhibition catalogues the holdings could be scientifically compiled and published for parts of the collection as well as for individual estates. This special kind of cooperation with the City Museum was continued with other museums, so that parts of the collection were loaned out again and again to different museums. Altogether over 30 exhibitions have been compiled, co-organized or taken over. Since September 2002 the Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München has been one of the four autonomous museums at the Pinakothek der Moderne, presenting alternating exhibitions on historic and current architectural positions in its own showrooms.