The historical establishment of the National Art Gallery (BSLN) was the result of the initiation of idea mooted between 1954 and 1956 by the Malaya Arts Council, helmed by the late Tan Sri Mubin Sheppard and Frank Sullivan. According to the 1974-1975 BSLN Annual Report and the 1979 National Art Museum Annual Report, the BSLN Board of Trustees was formed on 3 June 1958. On 27 August 1958, a two-storey building at No. 109, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, adjacent to Malaysia’s first parliament building (then known as the Federation of Malaya), was officially allocated by the government to the National Art Gallery. The ordinance to establish the BSLN Board of Trustees was given the royal assent by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1959 through Act 516: National Art Gallery Act 1959.
The establishment and official launching of the National Art Gallery was officiated by the incumbent Prime Minister then, who was also the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. The launch coincided with the gallery’s maiden exhibition at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Hall, participated by local artists from all over the country as a manifestation of their spirit of unity and solidarity through their artwork. Indeed, the establishment of National Art Gallery was recognition by the government towards the national arts.
|Frank Sullivan was appointed as the first administrator of the National Art Gallery. Being the former secretary to Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, he held a concurrent position as the Secretary of the BSLN Board of Trustees until 1970. On 28 January 1987, a groundbreaking ceremony for a new building of the National Art Gallery was held at a site in Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur. The construction of the new building was done through a privatisation project between the Government of Malaysia and Yeoh Tiong Lay (YTL) Company. It was completed in 1998.
|On 13 November 1998, the National Art Gallery (BSLN) moved to its own building at No. 2, Jalan Temerloh, Off Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur in concurrence with the launch of the 13th Asian International Art Exhibition. The new National Art Gallery building was officially opened by YAB Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad (now Tun) on 27 September 2000..
|On 26 September 2011, the Minister of Information, Communications, and Culture, Dato’ Sri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim, officiated the launching of the National Visual Arts Development Board Act 2011 (Act 724), which brought about the change in name of the National Art Gallery (BSLN) to the NationalVisualArts Gallery(BSVN).
The ceremony was graced by the attendance of a Deputy Minister, Secretary Generals, Deputy Secretary Generals, representatives of agencies under the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture corporate partners as well as the media who came to witness the historic launch of the National Visual Arts Gallery.
|The gazettement of the National Visual Arts Development Board Act 2011 (Act 724) enables the National Visual Arts Gallery to function not only as a gallery but also as a catalyst for the development of the national visual arts industry through development programmes and other necessary assistance (Reference: Section 4 (f) and (i)).
|The Act also defines any art form that appeals to the visual senses and exists in permanent forms such as photography, multimedia, and any other interesting technology as compared to the previous Act, which was more focused on paintings only.
|The Government felt that the National Art Gallery Act 1959 which had long been applied must be improved for a wider focus in tandem with the demands and development of visual arts at the international level.
|The National Art Gallery Act 1959 was thereby replaced by the National Visual Arts Development Board Act 2011 (Act 724) effective as of 27 August 2011. This date was chosen in conjunction with the 53rd anniversary of the establishment of the National Art Gallery.
|In addition, this Act also enables the National Visual Arts Gallery to expand its operations to the other states as compared to the previous Act, which restricted the gallery’s operations to Kuala Lumpur only (Reference: Section 30 (2)).
|With the embodiment of the National Visual Arts Development Board Act 2011 (Act 724), it is hoped that the mission of BSVN to gather, conserve, preserve, display and promote art work, and foster awareness, understanding and appreciation of the arts at all levels of the society will be better achieved. This will further enable the BSVN to set quality standards on visual arts in order for the national visual arts collections to gain wider recognition via the gazettement of the Act.
|The following isa brief chronology ofthe NationalVisualArts Gallerysince its inception:
|27 August 1958 – The National Art Gallery was officially established through the National Art Gallery Act. The first director of the National Art Gallery was Mr. Frank Sullivan.
|3 October 2007 – The National Visual Arts Development Board Bill was passed by the Cabinet to repeal the National Art Gallery Act 1959.
|26 November 2007 – The first reading of the National Visual Arts Development Board Bill in Parliament.
|2008 – The National Visual (Tampak) Arts Development Board Bill was withdrawn as the term “Tampak” has a different connotation to some ethnic groups in Sabah.
|16 July 2010 – Tabling and passing of the National Visual Arts Development Board Bill by the Cabinet.
|11 October 2010 – First reading of the National Visual Arts Development Board Bill at the House of Representatives.
|15 December 2010 – Second and third readings at the House of Representatives.
|22 December 2010 – Tabling at the House of Senate.
|24 January 2011 – Assent by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
|27 January 2011 – Published in the gazette.
|27 August 2011 – Enforcement of the Act.
|26 September 2011 – Launch of the National Visual Arts Development Board Act by the Minister of Information, Communications and Culture.
|Since its establishment, the National Visual Arts Gallery has been under the purview of several ministries. Among them are:
|Ministry of Youth and Sports
|Ministry of Tourism Malaysia.
|The Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage
|The Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage
|The Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture (April 2009 to May 2013)
|The Ministry of Tourism and Culture (May 2013 to May 2018)
|The Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture Malaysia