The collection is part of the inventory of the Historischer Verein von Oberbayern (Historical Association of Upper Bavraria).
In accordance with the statutes of the association, the Historischer Verein had decided since its formation to collect also "bildliche und schriftliche Denkmäler und Urkunden aller Art" (visual and written monuments and deeds of all kinds). Therefore, it started from 1839 to gather drawings, copperplate prints and lithographs. In 1846, began the construction of a collection of portraits. Since 1863, photographs have been included into the "Bildersammlung" (picture collection). In 1866, the artist Carl August Lebschée (1800–1877) was commissioned to paint documentary views of Bavarian cities, market towns and castles in the Antiquarium of the Munich Residenz (Residence).
In 1896, the Historischer Verein von Oberbayern managed to make an important acquisition. For 200 marks, the substantial estate of the artist Johann Georg von Dillis (1759–1841) was bought. It contains over 8,000 sketches by him, by his brothers Cantius and Ignaz and by the latter's children, Franz und Anna. Also part of the written estate by Johann Georg von Dillis is included. In 1996, the drawings and sketchbooks from this estate were given as a permanent loan to the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (Municipal Gallery at the Lenbachhaus).
After the handover of large parts of the collection to Munich institutions and museums, apart from the library and the collection of documents, the "picture collection" of the Historischer Verein has remained to this day in the Stadtarchiv München (Munich Municipal Archive). It comprises (including the drawings and sketches from the Dillis estate) c.16,900 drawings, prints and photos dedicated to topographical themes, to events and to people, as well as caricatures and varia. The pages mainly refer to the area covered by the Historischer Verein and originated during the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. The chronological emphasis of the collection is on the nineteenth century. The "picture collection", the order of which was instituted in c.1900 and has remained unchanged to this day, is only expanded in exceptional cases.