The Missionary Benedictines’ collecting activities started soon after the start of their mission in East Africa in 1887.
The majority of East African objects was acquired before 1918, South African exhibits enhanced to the collection between the 1920ies and 1950. In Korea, collecting started in 1909 until the late 1920ies.
Afterwards, the museum inventory was complemented only selectively by objects like contemporary Makonde woodcarvings or personal souvenirs from St. Ottilien’s Missionaries, and some art trade purchases from countries out of the mission areas. Since 2014, the inventory is only enhanced by inheritances of late St. Ottilien missionaries.
The aim of the collections was to give "a most comprehensive insight into all facets of those countries, from nature to culture, and therefore in the outer conditions of the pastoral, social and charitable work of the missionaries." (Fr. Arnold Walloschek, Museum Director 1964 - 2014). Therefore, the focus of the collections lies on documenting everyday life, not on presenting curiosities or art. The Mission Museum does not house any human remains.
In accordance with the collection concept, the permanent exhibition shows, with a few exceptions, only objects collected by the Missionary Benedictines during their work. Purchases from the art trade are managed in the museum depository.
Preservation and maintenance are among the responsibilities of the Museum, but particular interest lies in research beyond the scientific level. Cooperation with source communities complement our knowledge of the historic heritage in many ways and enhance transcultural collaboration. Another focus is education and mediation.