The history of the Civic Archive of Antique Drawings began in 1862, when the first works started coming into the municipal collections from the bequests of private collectors. In 1878 the works were moved to the first Municipal Art Museum at the Salone delle Esposizioni in the Public Gardens. Since 1900 the drawings have been housed at the Sforza Castle, which became the seat of the Civic Museums following the restorations by Luca Beltrami.

In 1972 a new building overlooking the courtyard of the parade ground became the setting for the collection. The building, designed by Studio Albini-Helg-Piva, consists of a reading room and a storage area for the original works.