With the Kunstverein Winterthur’s founding in 1848 and the museum building opening in 1916, the former Kunstmuseum is the oldest amongst Winterthur’s art museums. It is the only museum that continues to expand its collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. Up until 2017, it was called Kunstmuseum Winterthur but as a result of merging with the former Museum Oskar Reinhart, the umbrella brand Kunst Museum Winterthur emerged and the former Kunstmuseum Winterthur became the Kunst Museum Winterthur | Beim Stadthaus.
The museum’s collection has its origins in private collections from Winterthur. These date back to the beginning of the 20th century and reveal the collectors’ preferences for French art. Worthy of mention are the donors Georg Reinhart, Arthur and Hedy Hahnloser-Bühler, and E. Richard Bühler, whose collections were complemented by that of Heinrich Wolfer-Sulzer. In 1973, the museum received a legacy by Clara and Emil Friedrich-Jezler, two of Switzerland’s most important collectors of classical modern art.
Today, the museum holds the fourth largest public collection of Modern art in Switzerland, following the collections of Basel, Zurich and Bern. The Kunst Museum Winterthur | Beim Stadthaus thereby complements the two Reinhart museums in Winterthur – Reinhart am Stadtgarten and the Oskar Reinhart Collection «Am Römerholz» – with their significant holdings of older art.