The main building of Kunstmuseum Basel, dating from 1936, was designed by Basel-based architect Rudolf Christ together with master builder Paul Bonatz from Stuttgart, both advocates of conservative modernism.
For the museum in Basel they were greatly influenced by northern Italian architecture. Both historical buildings, such as the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, and the contemporary architecture of the Novecento Italiano served as models for its construction. The main building was designed purely to house collections. Now that the annex has opened, which has since been hosting Kunstmuseum Basel's special exhibitions, it can now return to this purpose.