Early art

The origins of the Brno picture gallery are associated with the establishment of the Francis Museum in Brno in 1818 (the emperor authorised construction in 1817). The initial objective of building art collections was further supported by the foundation of the Art Association in 1829. The association usually purchased contemporary art for the museum collections at Vienna exhibitions and auctions. Unfortunately, the association ceased to exist in the 1840's, and art became marginalised within museum activities. In 1881, an important part was played by a donation of several paintings of Italian provenance by Count Jan of Liechtenstein; they now make up the core of the collection of Italian painting. The pictures were also employed in the first exhibitions of the Francis Museum, designed by Mořic Trapp and held in the Episcopal Courtyard.

The development of the independent picture gallery started in 1923 when the basis of a systematically built collection came into existence with the passing of new statutes for the Provincial Museum. The original collection subsequently expanded with the "town" gallery of Heinrich Gomperz. In the 1920's, a collection put together by the factory-owner Arnold Skutezky was acquired, with its core of Dutch painting. Under Dr. Albert Kutal, a collection of medieval art was compiled, associated with an exhibition of Gothic art in Moravia and Silesia in 1935/36.

A large number of artefacts loaned for the exhibition from church and private sources came to form part of the old art collection. The acquisition of the series mentioned above led to definition of criteria for further additions. The new programme of the picture gallery involved the collection of major artworks of Moravian provenance, both old and more recent. Credit for building up the old art collection must go to Dr. Vlasta Kratinová. Apart from a programme expansion of the existing collections, she facilitated the creation of a unique body of baroque art in Moravia, until then largely ignored.

The establishment of the Moravian Gallery in 1961 enabled restructuring into individual collections, including the incorporation of the previously autonomous Museum of Applied Arts, from whence free art was transferred to the picture gallery.

Further development of the old art collection was moulded by the political situation after 1989, when the Moravian Gallery acquired the Governor's Palace. The expansion of exhibition premises enabled presentation of the collection in a broader spectrum. The current permanent exhibition comprising art from the Gothic to the 19th century was opened in 2001.