In the 18th century Joseph Louis Lagrange, one of the founders of Analytical Mechanics, lived and worked there. In 1840 Professor Gustav Magnus bought the house. He set up his private physics laboratory there, and is regarded as the oldest physics institute in Germany. In 1845, the Physical Society emerged from the circle of participants in the Physical Colloquium established by Magnus.
Among the important scientists whose work is associated with Magnus are R. Clausius, E. du Bois-Reymond, J.W. Gibbs, H. Helmholtz, G. Kirchhoff, A. Kundt, G. Quinke, W. Siemens, J, Tyndall, E. Warburg, G. Wiedemann and many others.
Magnus died in 1870. His wife lived in the house until 1910. From 1911 to 1921 it was inhabited by theatre director Max Reinhardt and his family. When his wife, the actress Else Heims, who had already divorced him at this time, had to emigrate in the thirties of the 20th century and thus left the Magnus-Haus, it was used by the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University. In the post-war period, the house was first used as a Soviet remand prison and then served the Society for German-Soviet Friendship.
In 1958, on the occasion of Max Planck's 100th birthday, Lord Mayor Ebert handed the house over to the Physical Society of the GDR for permanent use. After German reunification, the increasingly dilapidated building was completely renovated by the German Physical Society. This was made possible by donations from Siemens AG and the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin. Since then, the Magnus-Haus Berlin has been used as a scientific meeting centre. The rooms of the west wing on the first floor served former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker until his death in 2015.