The basis of the Coleoptera Collection are the rich samples that J. B. von Spix and K. F. P. Martius collected during their famous expedition to Brazil (1817-1820). These samples were taxonomically worked by M. Perty. The results of this voyage also founded the geographical focus of the collection, namely the beetles of the Neotropics. Perty already 1833 left Munich and it was not before 1843 when again a coleopterist worked on the collection (J. Roth).
From 1849 until his death in 1887 M. Gemminger was curator of the collection. During this time the collection flourished. Although J. Kriechbamer was employed as successor for J. Roth who died in 1858, he was mainly interested in Hymenoptera. Hence, after M. Gemmingers death the collection was left unmanaged for almost 40 years.
When H. Kulzer was employed as preparator in 1920, the collection was cared for firstly by a coleopterist. Kulzer did most of the modern curatorial work. After Kulzers retreat in 1948 H. Freude was elected firstly assistent and since 1952 curator. From this time the entomological department was divided into sections.
1973 H. Freude was followed by G. Scherer who curated the collection until 1994, since that time M. Baehr is head of the section who previously was in charge of the Hemiptera and Orthopteroidea collection. Both, H. Freude and G. Scherer conducted extensive arrangements which were hampered firstly by the restricted space in the Nymphenburg Castle, where the collection was located for many years after Word War II, and also by the lack of modern drawers. It was not until the move to the new building (1985) that the situation was improved, and today the bulk of the material is properly arranged.
Thus, it becomes evident that the history of the Coleoptera collection was not continuous. The lack of curators interested in Coleoptera for many years severely hampered the increase of the collection in times when entomology flourished and comparable collections grew rapidly. However, the different fields of interests of the curators also were useful for the collection, because they focussed their interests on many different beetle families which were collected and worked.
Therefore, today the beetle collection is a quite well balanced mixture of very different systematic groupings from various countries. Certain systematic focuses have persisted, e.g. Heteromera, Water beetles, Cetoniinae, mainly based on the acquisitions of such important collections as those of C. Müller, A. Zimmermann, and H. Schein. The rich collections of Monommidae and parts of Tenebrionidae (H. Freude), Chrysomelidae-Alticinae (G. Scherer), and Australian Carabidae (M. Baehr) were originated from the scientific work of the mentioned curators .
Recently a collection of larvae is being built up which so far includes rich material of Chrysomelidae (Dr. W. Steinhausen) and Carabidae (Prof. Dr. E. Arndt).