Museum was founded in 1922 on the basis of nationalized private collections, the basis was the collection of the Tereshchenko family. In 1934 the gallery received the status of a museum.
The museum has departments of Old Russian, XVIII-XIX centuries and Soviet art, in which painting, sculpture, graphics, art crafts are presented. Open more than 30 rooms, the collection represents more than 12 thousand objects of art
Among the oldest works of art - the icon of the pre-Mongol period "Boris and Gleb", a monument created in Novgorod in the late 12th - first half of the 13th century . The works of Russian art of the pre-Soviet era are represented by D. Levitsky, V. Tropinin, V. Serov, V. Perov, V. Makovsky, V. Vasnetsov, I. Repin, M. Antokolsky, V. Vereshchagin, M. Vrubel, N. Ge , I. Shishkin, AI Kuindzhi.
Soviet art is represented by the works of artists B. Ioganson, S. Gerasimov, B. Ryauzov, S. Chuikov, D. Bayramov, sculptors I. Shadr, S. Koltsov.
The museum's premises until 1880 were a manor house, a one-story house. In 1882, according to the project of V. Schreter, the architect V. Nikolaev built the second floor and extended the estate inland. Interior decoration was completed by the architect F. Melzer.