The first Käthe Kollwitz museum, unique with its worldwide most comprehensive and complete Kollwitz collection, was founded on 22 April 1985, the 40th anniversary of the artist's death. Funding is provided by the Kreissparkasse Köln savings bank. In early 1989 the museum moved to a newly built venue on the top floor of the Neumarkt-Passage shopping arcade. This venue with its exhibition space of 1000 sq. m. provides an optimum display in keeping with modern ideas on museum presentation.
The museum's exhibits comprise about 300 drawings, more than 500 prints, and all Kollwitz' posters and sculptures. Among the drawings - a focal point of the collection - there are some of her most impressive works, many from her later phase when she was predominantly preoccupied with the theme of death. Of her earlier work, three of the less than ten pastel and charcoal drawings that have been preserved and which she produced for the satirical periodical "Simplicissimus" are represented in the museum's collection. The 15 bronze sculptures are of particular importance as almost all the examples shown in the museum are rare early casts. Another part of the collection which is meanwhile almost complete is Käthe Kollwitz' book illustrations.
Alongside the permanent exhibition of its collection, the museum stages special exhibitions around artists connected to the works of Käthe Kollwitz, such as William Hogarth, Ernst Barlach, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Heinrich Zille, Otto Dix, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Ewald Mataré, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Horst Janssen, Honoré Daumier and also contemporary artists. Other exhibitions have a thematic or historical focus or are devoted to artistic techniques.