The Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart was jointly established by the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, the Christoph Merian Foundation, and the Canton of Basel-Stadt and is operated by the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel. When it opened in 1980 under the name Museum für Gegenwartskunst, it was the first museum in the world dedicated exclusively to contemporary art

The Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart displays contemporary art from the collections of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation and the Kunstmuseum. Since 2003, all holdings of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation that are not on show are housed in the Schaulager. In addition to changing presentations of the collection, which are kept in dialogue with the Museums exhibition activities, the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart regularly schedules lectures and discussions on aspects of contemporary art, guided tours and commentated viewings of selected pieces. This underscores the Museums desire to serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas and laboratory for the multifarious forms of contemporary art production and practice.