The businessman, economist and tax adviser Manfred Bumiller (1928-2018) decided in the early 1980s to set up an art collection. The idea to institute a collection of early Islamic art came about in the autumn of 1980 through contact with Professor Siegfried Wichmann, an art historian and specialist for nineteenth century paintings. He pointed out to M. Bumiller that until now there were no collectors in Europe specialising in early Islamic metalwork. This was a very attractive reason to establish a personal collection.
In 1981 he bought the first three objects, based on which he soon created a substantial collection: a metal basin with a hunting scene, a gold damascened steel bowl and an incense burner in form of a lion. Bumiller invested mostly in small objects which showcased outstanding examples of Middle Eastern craftsmanship. In this way a comprehensive collection was formed which soon expanded into other material groups. Especially after he retired he patiently persisted in the documentation, restoration and processing of his continually growing collection.
In 1992 he bought two listed town houses in the Austraße in the historical centre of Bamberg and had them elaborately restored as a museum building. In appreciation and thanks for the conservation of the two historically important buildings and the enrichment of Bamberg by one museum, the city council awarded him the honorary medal of Bamberg in 2003.
Due to his merit to the university, especially as a sponsor for the department of Islamic Art History and Archaeology, Manfred Bumiller was made an honorary senator to the Otto-Friedrich-University of Bamberg in 2002. The co-operative agreement reached in 2008 with the university goes back to his initiative in sponsoring scientific research.
Manfred Bumiller retired from his task as president of the Bumiller Art Foundation in 2015. Since then the Bumiller Art Foundation is in charge of the collection and the museum.