The city art museum in Nizhny Novgorod was opened to the public in 1896. At first the collection was housed in one of the towers of the Nizhni Novgorod Kremlin. In 1924 the collection was removed to a beautiful mansion house which was built in the beginning of the 20th century to the design of the well-known Russian architects, Vesnin brothers.
The works given as gifts by the Academy of Arts and some artists formed the nucleus of the collection. The replenishment of it until the October Revolution must be attributed to the enthusiasm of local artists and art lovers. The present collection of the museum dates mainly from 1917 when the State carried out the policy of planned distribution of works of art among the varios museums of the country, the central art museums also added some works to the Gallery's collection along with many of the specimens which passed into the Gallery's possession from the nationalized private collections of local merchants and the nobility. Maxim Gorky, the great proletarian writer, spared no efforts in helping to acquire pictures for the Gallery. It was he who presented the Gallery with his collection of paintings, the best of which Russian Venus by Boris Kustodyev and series of paintings Maitreya by Nickolai Roerich are exhibited now.