The origins of the Museum go back to 1872, when the Patriotic Museum was founded, for in its holdings it had a smallish collection of artworks of a cultural history character. More systematic collection of material began after World War II, thanks to the urging of the curator and first manager of the cultural history department, Dr Božo Glavić, to whom goes the credit for moving the collection into the Rector’s Palace and setting up the first in situ display, opened to the public in 1950. During the course of time, the collection turned into first a distinct department of the Dubrovnik Museum, and then into the Cultural History Museum, a component of Dubrovnik Museums.
The holdings of the museum consist of material of distinctly cultural, historical and artistic value, with about ten thousand objects created over a time span from the end of the 15th to the beginning of the 20th century. It has been systematised into fifteen collections featuring painting, printmaking, furniture, textiles, ceramics, metals, icons, glass, photographs and photographic materials, miscellanea, documents, postcards, the writer Ivo Vojnović, old weaponry and numismatics.