The origins of the Kočevje Regional Museum date back to the founding of the Museum Society of Kočevje in 1953. It is housed in the 1930s Šešek House in the center of the city. Its permanent exhibitions focus on the historical event from 1943 that took place here and resulted in the first elected parliament in the history of the Slovenes. Another intriguing subject is the legacy of the Gottschee Germans. The thematic shows are prepared in collaboration with other Slovene museums and contemporary art exhibitions are organised in the Likovni salon Kočevje.
The Society was initially housed in the former Skubiz villa on the Rinža, which today houses the offices of Kočevje Municipality. In 1963 the museum moved to the Sokol House, originally constructed in 1937–1938 (designed by Gustav Trenz) as a multi purpose building with a large central auditorium, which in October 1943 hosted the Assembly of the Delegates of the Slovene Nation, the first elected parliament in the history of the Slovenes. In 1947 Sokol House was renamed Šešek House [Šeškov dom] in honour of national hero Jože Šešek who was executed by Italian occupation forces in 1942.
The Kočevje Regional Museum presents several collections, including Drawings by Painter Božidar Jakac (1899-1989) in the auditorium – among them are 34 drawings made during the session of the Assembly in 1943.
The Former German Language Island in the Kočevje Region – exhibition presents the legacy of the Gottschee Germans. They have inhabited the region for over 600 years but the majority of population abandoned their homes in the winter of 1941–1942 (this part of Slovenia was not incorporated in the German occupation zone, but occupied by Italians) and opted to move to the Reich. The resettlement, the ravages of the war, the post-war collapse, and the systematic destruction had far-reaching consequences for the once-developed cultural landscape.
The third exhibition is The Nation Will Write Its Own Judgement, Slovenia from Idea To The State. The first sentence is the only slogan that remained after the German occupation army badly damaged the Šešek House in October 1943 after the Assembly. The exhibition focuses on this part of the nation’s history, but also shows the history from the first Slavic tribes who settled in these parts up to the independence of Slovenia in 1991.
The Kočevje Regional Museum also organises temporary exhibitions in collaboration with four other museums in the neighbouring regions, the Bela krajina Museum, Metlika, the Dolenjska Museum Novo mesto, the Božidar Jakac Art Museum, Kostanjevica na Krki, the Museum of the Posavje Region, Brežice that are exchanged among the institutions.
The museum has two dislocated units with their own permanent exhibitions. At Pregrad Kulturni dom is the exhibition Predgrad and Predgrajci, revealing the ethnology, folklore, and history of inhabitants of the Poljanska Valley by the Kolpa River based on the research and book by Marija Makarovič.
The second permanent exhibition is Churches and Chapels of Kočevska Reka Parish in the renovated Church of St John the Baptist in Kočevska Reka. The Vicariate of Gotenica was mentioned as early as 1363. The exhibition presents ecclesiastical history, the history of the Kočevje Germans, and the devastation during and after World War II, when most of the churches and villages were left to ruin or were intentionally destroyed. For nearly 50 years, Kočevska Reka was a closed military zone.