In the centre of the Panorama Museum stands the monumental painting by Werner Tübke. The museum also has a comprehensive collection of contemporary art made up of prints, paintings, drawings, watercolours, pastels and sculptures. Most of the work has been acquired by purchase. There is also a selection of permanent loans from the free state of Thuringia and the Berlin Finance Directorate. However, some works which have already been introduced to the public in special exhibitions were very recently bestowed on the Panorama Museum.
The museum began collecting works in the late 1970s and still continues today. In the first few years, collecting was restricted specifically to works of art involving the Peasants’ War. The original portfolio consists of paintings and prints like the polyptych “The Great German Peasants’ War" (1974) by Heinz Zander and the painting “Vision of the Peasants’ War” (1976) by Willi Neubert. In the graphic cassette “On the 450th anniversary of the German Peasants’ War 1975” a large number of artists produced paintings and prints on the theme of the Peasants’ War. There was also a focus on regional artists. However, there is also a small but beautiful collection of works by Werner Haselhuhn.
Though the first acquisitions were mainly gifts from the DDR Ministry of Culture, by the end of 1978 the museum was regularly and astutely purchasing works by Werner Tübke to add to its collection. This increasingly became the main focus in building the collection. The Panorama Museum therefore now owns a large number of works by Werner Tübke, in addition to the monumental painting. It is especially worth noting that almost all the printed works of the painter are there. These include his work on the stage designs for the opera "Der Freischütz” [The Marksman] by Carl Maria von Weber. The Tübke painting collection includes “Five Parts of the Earth” (1958) as an example of his early works, as well as the panel “End of the Fool’s Court” (1978) and “Dr. jur. Schulze” versions I and V. Work by artists from the “Leipzig School” founded by Werner Tübke now form a large part of the collection: these artists include Heinz Zander, Bernhard Heisig, Wolfgang Mattheuer and Horst Sakulowski. Depending on the financial situation, the museum tries to extend and develop this focus of the collection.
In addition to purchases made by the museum, another important part of the collection is provided by works donated by other artists. Two significant donations are the Albert-Leo Troost and Fabius von Gugel collections. The Fabius von Gugel endowment was preceded by a special exhibition by the artist in the Panorama Museum in 1998. After the exhibition, the artist decided to donate a large number of his paintings and prints to the Panorama Museum.
The Albert-Leo Troost collection is also held as a result of a second great donation. Troost the collector was inspired by exhibitions of Czech and Slovak artists (such as Albín Brunovský, Aleš Veselý and Jiří Anderle) in the Panorama Museum. In 2001 he donated to the museum a comprehensive collection of prints of contemporary Czech and Slovak art.
Work on expanding the collections was given new impulse by special exhibitions. These led to several outstanding artists also donating one or two works to the museum. The associated growth in the collection was extended by further purchases. The artists concerned included the likes of Albín Brunovský, Jiří Anderle, Enrico Colombotto Rosso and Samuel Bak, as well as collectors and gallerists such as Gisela and Hans-Peter Schulz from Leipzig, who sympathetically monitored the museum’s exhibition program and made donations to the museum.