Founded through a decree issued by King Carol II of Romania, on June 1st 1933, the Pinacotheque was inaugurated thanks to the support of the Mayor of the time, Dem. I. Dobrescu, of Dr. George Severeanu (who became the first Director of the institution) and of several cultural figures, on November 20th 1933, in the monumental building generously donated by Admiral Gheorghe Urseanu – located on Lascar Catargiu Boulevard, nowadays known as the Astronomical Observatory. The event took place in the presence of important figures of the time, such as George Oprescu, Liviu Rebreanu, Constantin Argetoianu, Alexandru Tzigara-Samurcaş. The collections were formed over time, starting from a nucleus made out of works acquired by the Bucharest City Hall, to which were added other acquisitions and donations. Out of the donations, the most notable ones were those of Filip Marin and Ioan Movilă.

On the day of the gallery’s inauguration 103 works were exhibited, mostly paintings, out of which 63 came from the City Hall collections. During the following 5 years 241 works were added to the collection bought using Municipality funds, as well as a large number of pieces from private donations. Thus, in 1939, the gallery encompassed 756 works. Nowadays the Pinacotheque features 2458 paintings signed by important foreign and Romanian artists, such as Theodor Aman, Gheorghe Tattarescu, Nicolae Grigorescu, Ion Andreescu, Ştefan Luchian, Theodor Pallady, Nicolae Tonitza, Marius Bunescu, Nicolae Dărăscu, Jean Al. Steriadi, Dimitrie Ghiaţă and Corneliu Baba, as well as 2417 sculptures signed, among others, by Dimitrie Paciurea, Gheorghe Anghel, Oscar Han, Ion Jalea and Ion Irimescu.

In what concerns foreign artists, the Pinacotheque also features drawings and sketches of the Flemish, German and French schools, among others. It is noteworthy that the collection’s contemporary section, acquired through acquisitions and donations, forms a large part of the Pinacotheque’s ensemble.