The museum was originally founded following a campaign by art-lovers in the community, an event reflecting the emphasis on regional identities at the beginning of the 19th century. First known as Würmgau Museum, the name of the local river district at the time, its mission was to preserve historical, cultural, and artistic heritage. The single biggest driver behind the creation of the collection was Martin Penzl, a doctor, to whom we’re indebted for the discovery and acquisition of the sculpture known as the Female Saint of Starnberg by Ignaz Günther. On June 8, 1912, with the aid of funding from Starnberg town council, the group of initiators acquired Lochmann House, now a listed building, to house the museum.
On February 23, 1913, a management association for the museum was set up. The first roll of members included the names of several prominent local citizens. The chairman was art historian Richard Paulus, and he had a major influence on the initial history of the museum until his death. Thanks to his royal connections, the opening ceremony on July 9, 1914 shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, was a society event attended by King Ludwig III Bavaria’s last monarch and his consort, accompanied by some of the princesses. The ash tree planted to commemorate this occasion still stands resplendently in the museum’s inner courtyard.
Under the Nazi regime, the management association was dissolved, and responsibility for the museum was transferred to the town council. After the war, the museum remained under the administration of the local authority. Following the restoration of Lochmann House, the museum was reopened in 1985 as Starnberg Local History Museum.
In 2008, a modern extension designed by the architects Guggenbichler&Netzer was opened, and the institution was named Lake Starnberg Museum.