The Art Gallery of New South Wales began in the 1870s as an aspect of the Academy of Art. Later it became known as the National Art Gallery of NSW. This name persisted beyond Federation in 1901. It was given its present name in 1958.
It remains the principal collecting and exhibiting body in NSW and is governed by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Act of 1980.
This Collection began when Dr John Orde Poynton generously donated 3,700 Old Master prints in 1959. In 1964, the Collection was enhanced by Harold Wright’s bequest of half his collection of Lionel Lindsay prints and prints by W. P. Robins and H. J. Stuart Brown. It has since been supplemented by gifts and purchases to number over 8,000 prints and volumes from the 15th to the 20th centuries, including paintings.