Haus der Kunst has had a variegated and equally lively and troubled history. Opened in 1937 as the first representational monumental building of the "Third Reich", the “"Haus der Deutschen Kunst" [House of German Art] became a Nazi instrument of propaganda and a model of the continuation of Modernism under the auspices of totalitarianism. 

After the war, the American military government's casino was housed here, and, since the end of the 1940s, the Haus der Kunst has grown to become an internationally prestigious exhibition institution.  Following the renovation of the building in the early 1990s, the institution's directors - Christoph Vitali  (as of 1993) and Chris Dercon (as of 2003) - used and discussed the building's architecture in different ways.

Since October 2011 Okwui Enwezor has been the director of Haus der Kunst. He describes his approach to the building in the following way: "There is a potential in Haus der Kunst’s architecture and history that we can uncover like an unearthed treasure. The building’s interior architecture possesses the possibility of a welcoming feeling we wish to expose and animate.” (Okwui Enwezor)