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.
The first art works were acquired in the late 1950s and the strongest theme in the collection is abstract art made by Australian women artists.
On 5 July 2008 Gavin Hughes and Max Dingle and the Shoalhaven City Council signed a deed of agreement accepting the collection as a bequest to the Shoalhaven City Arts Centre’s regional gallery collection.
Gavin Hughes died on 25 October 2008.