The Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau occupies the former residence of the artist Franz von Lenbach (1836–1904).
Between 1887 and 1890, the acclaimed portraitist built himself a representative studio and villa in the Tuscan style designed by Gabriel von Seidl, then the star of the Munich architecture scene. The ensemble was rounded out by a garden designed by Max Kolb, another renowned master of his métier. The complex’s prominent situation on Brienner Straße, in the immediate vicinity of Königsplatz and the royal art collections, underscored its representational function: here lived the prosperous Bavarian capital's "prince of artists."
His widow Lolo von Lenbach sold the property to the City of Munich in 1924, donating the building’s furnishings and interior decorations and numerous works by von Lenbach. The acquisition allowed the authorities to fulfill the long-held desire for a museum to be dedicated to the works of the nineteenth-century Munich School of painters and contemporary art. Paintings and sculptures were purchased from dealers as well as local artists and their descendants.
To create enough floor space for the collection and exhibitions, the architect Hans Grässel added an extension to Lenbach's studio and residence building; the result was today's three-wing structure. The Städtische Galerie, with an integrated gallery showcasing von Lenbach’s art, opened its doors to the public on May 1, 1929.