The collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut is much older than the institute itself. Drawings from important architects were collected since the end of the ninteenth century, but it was not until a hundred later that these collections were housed in an architecture museum.
The Maatschappij tot Bevordering der Bouwkunst (Society for Promotion of Architecture) was founded in 1842. It did justice to its name by organizing discussions and exhibitions and by holding competitions. The results of its efforts were published in its own periodical Bouwkundige Bijdragen. The activities led to the accumulation of a collection of drawings, most of which were unfortunately lost in a fire. The surviving portion, together with the archives of the society itself, now form an important 19th century source of information.
New initiatives led to the formation of a collection in the early years of the 20th century. In 1912, J.H.W. Leliman published an article in the periodical De Bouwwereld arguing for the foundation of an architecture museum. It received many positive reactions, and a National Committee was established to investigate the proposal, but no concrete plans were made. The idea remained alive in architectural circles, however. This became apparent when a major exhibition about Dutch architecture was held on the occasion of the Royal Jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina in 1923. The architects who lent their drawings for this event were asked to part with them on behalf of the collection of the future museum. Many of them complied; the content of that exhibition now forms part of the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Stichting Architectuur Museum
Following the Second World War, it was once again architects who took the lead in forming the Stichting Architectuur Museum ("Architecture Museum Foundation", SAM). They began collecting archives, but the task of managing them turned out to be problematic. The Government then decided to establish the NDB ("Netherlands Documentation Center for Architecture"), a subsection of Rijksdienst voor de Monumentenzorg (Netherlands Department for Conservation). The NDB was given charge of the SAM archives, and together they continued building up the collection by acquiring archives and a library. These archives and the library form the basis of the present collection.
Another important pillar of the collection is the library of the former Stichting Wonen. This foundation was a successor of the Stichting Goed Wonen, established in 1946 to promote functional and "good" domestic design. It dropped its normative objectives during the sixties to become Stichting Wonen. Architecture was now seen more as a cultural activity. The foundation concentrated on disseminating its ideas and organized many exhibitions. It also issued educational materials and publications, among them the architecture journal Wonen-TABK.