The Berlin architect Werner Issel constructed the power station from 1927 to 1928 in the New Objectivity style, which was still quite fresh at the time. The plant, erected very close to an existing steam power plant, was primarily intended to provide lighting for the town and fill any temporary gaps in the power supply. Bottlenecks were increasingly occurring, especially during peak load times, even though Cottbus obtained additional electricity from outside. The new power station also took care of that, with high-voltage transmission lines flowing into the tower of the wing on the Amtsteich pond and being transformed in that building’s distribution station. A 1,450 hp diesel engine hummed away in the former power house, the larger of the two wings of the building, whilst the tower housed the high-voltage sealing ends and instrument transformer of a distribution station.
Cottbus diesel power station was in service for just over 30 years. Afterwards it was unused for many years and fell into disrepair before the architecturally outstanding industrial monument was thoroughly restored and has been used since 2008 as an exhibition hall of the Brandenburg State Museum of Modern Art (BLMK). In its three exhibition halls in the Dieselkraftwerk in Cottbus and the Rathaushalle and Packhof in Frankfurt (Oder), the BLMK houses the world's most comprehensive museum collection of art from the GDR and subsequent artistic traditions, with over 42,000 works. In the former Cottbus diesel power station, the classical industrial architecture now forms the backdrop against which contemporary art finds its voice.