On his death, Gabriel de Rumine, son of Russian nobility, left the city of Lausanne 1.5 million Swiss Francs to erect a building for the use of the public.
Building began in 1892 according to the design of the Lyonnais architect Gaspard André. The building was inaugurated on the 3 November 1902, although building work continued until 1904.
It housed facilities such as the library of the University of Lausanne, and scientific and artistic collections belonging to the Canton of Vaud. In the 1980s, the university moved to its current location by Lake Geneva due to lack of space, and the Palais was restructured.