Before 1990, most of the visual artworks belonged to the Free German Trade Union Federation (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, FDGB). Other owners were the Council of East Berlin (Magistrat von Berlin) and the GDR cultural funding programme known as the Kulturfonds, as well as the Free German Youth movement (Freie Deutsche Jugend, FDJ), the Cultural Association of the GDR (Kulturbund), the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED ), the Society for German-Soviet Friendship (Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft, DSF) and the bloc parties. The smallest collections came from the League for International Friendship (Liga für Völkerfreundschaft) and the Sport and Technology Society (Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik, GST).

Sorted by federal state, 11,900 pieces come from Berlin, 3,480 from Brandenburg and 1,620 from Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

The collection also includes 1,500 works of applied arts and pieces by non-professionals.