The VCA Art Collection spans the entire history of the College and its predecessor, the National Gallery School of Art (first opened in 1867). Comprising painting, sculpture, photography and works on paper, most works are by students, staff or alumni. The Margaret Lawrence Australian Ceramics Collection was bequeathed to the Collection in 2004.
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.