The idea for the foundation of a collection and museum of modern art goes back to an initiative of Salzburg art dealer Friedrich Welz, who donated a large part of his private collection to the province of Salzburg. Owing to his personal friendship with Oskar Kokoschka the museum also received a great number of works from the great Austrian expressionist.
In 1983 the Rupertinum was opened as Salzburg Museum of Modern Art and Graphic Collection. The museum's founding director Otto Breicha also integrated the Austrian Photographic Gallery into the museum, which has become the most important collection of contemporary Austrian photography.
When the Museum der Moderne Salzburg on Mönchsberg was opened in October 2004, the former Rupertinum Collection of the province of Salzburg was integrated into the new concept of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. Since September 2013 Dr. Sabine Breitwieser is the new director of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. She follows Toni Stooss who was more than 7 years director of the Museum. With the tenfold increase of the original exhibition space and the organisation of varying art exhibitions in both buildings, the museum’s aims, aspirations and acquisition activity have achieved international standards. A local museum in an elegant old town house with fine exhibitions, mostly of graphic works of Classic Modernism, has been transformed into an internationally renowned institution with spacious rooms and facilities for large-scale works, installations, media art and representative surveys of the museum's collection.