The single-storey building of the Picture house, is adjacent to the fencing in the western part of the Lower Garden of the Grand Menshikov Palace ensemble. Despite the fact that, its architecture clearly echoes the Menshikov Palace on Vasilevsky Island, the building of the Twelve Collegia and other typical buildings of the first quarter of the XVIII century; the Picture house was built in the middle of the XVIII century, when Oranienbaum received its new owner, in the person of the Grand Duke Peter Feodorovich, the future emperor Peter III.
Peter Feodorovich was a passionate collector, and the building of the Picture house was intended for storing the collections of the Grand Duke. A large part of the art collection was kept in the central hall, and in the western wing - the Picture gallery, with its walls completely covered with canvases of Italian, Flemish, Dutch and German masters. At the request of Peter Feodorovich, there was a small cabinet of curiosities organized, that was reminiscent of Peter I's cabinet of curiosities by its content. In addition to the zoological and anatomical curiosities, it also contained a collection of rarities, imported from China and Japan, as well as a unique set of minerals, amber in particular.
In the eastern wing of the Picture house, there was an Opera Hall. Peter Feodorovich was fond of music and theater. He hosted opera performances, concerts, and participated in them, sometimes performing the role of the first violin.Oranienbaum had its own theatre troupe and the ballet school, that was admitting "from the gardeners' and peasants' children", and the music school for the children of the soldiers of the Holstein regiment.
The other rooms of the Picture house hosted a vast library. Peter Feodorovich willingly read the travel descriptions, war books, works on art and history. The basis of his book collection was the library of his father, the Duke Karl Friedrich Holstein. But the Grand Duke was going beyond his family library, and regularly monitored its further replenishment. Practically, the Picture house was an integrated cultural center, evidencing the broad artistic interests and the subtlety of the taste of the Oranienbaum host.
After the palace coup in 1762, the Picture house lost its function. Apparently, Catherine II was not interested in preserving the collections of the Picture house, gathered by Peter Feodorovich, and therefore she signed a decree on their transfer to various institutions.
The fate of the Picture house repeated the hard lines of his first owner. During the XVIII century, all the collections were disbanded. The building was used as an entrepot for the patients of military hospitals; at various times it housed apartments, a college and a high school. Only the facades of the Picture house have preserved until our days, without significant changes. However, among the Oranienbaum constructions, it remains a valuable architectural monument of the middle of the XVIII century, representing one of the most brilliant periods in the history of the estate. After the completion of the restoration works, the Picture house will be open to the public as a peculiar cultural center, where it is planned to organize concerts and guided tours.