Originally a new building for the Deutsches Historisches Museum was supposed to be constructed near the Reichstag Building. The Italian architect Aldo Rossi had won the architectural competition in the year 1988.
The German reunification in 1990 changed the plans for the development of the Deutsches Historisches Museum. On the day of unification the government of the Federal Republic made the collections and properties of the former "Museum fur Deutsche Geschichte" (Museum for German History), which had been dissolved by the last East German government, available for use by the Deutsches Historisches Museum.
The collections include extensive stores of posters and documents on the history of the workers' movement as well as a few remains from the former Zeughaus (arsenal) collection, which before World War II had been the largest collection of militaria from the history of Brandenburg and Prussia..
In order to meet the demands of a modern museum it is necessary to carry out extensive reconstruction and restoration work on the Zeughaus. Moreover, a new wing is needed to realise the ambitious exhibition concept that was developed by noted German historians, art historians and museum experts. These measures will begin in the middle of 1999 and should be completed in the year 2003.
The permanent exhibition on German history will cover an area of around 7,500 m2 in the Zeughaus. Temporary exhibitions on the other hand are to take place in a new neighbouring building, which will offer some 2,700 m2 of exhibition space. The museum was able to engage the services of the famous American architect I.M. Pei to design the new building; he made architectural history in museum design with the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington D.C. and the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris.