York Art Gallery was built in 1879 for the city's Great Exhibition. Probably the first point of interest you will notice is the statue of William Etty that resides in front of the Art Gallery. You can thank him for the city walls as you pass. He was a Victorian painter and also was a York man. His work was displayed in the gallery but it may not have been to everyone's taste, especially in Victorian times. Etty was a painter of nudes and his pictures were often covered up. So why would you thank Etty for York's City Walls? Well, Etty in fact saved them from being demolished as in 1825 the walls were to be pulled down. The council at that time considered the walls to be in the way of traffic. Etty, however, being an influential figure, constructed a group of people (The York Footpath's Association) that pressured the council for the walls not to be demolished. Suffice as it is to say, he was very much successful. The York Footpath's Association still exists today.
York Art Gallery has recently been reopened due to much needed refurbishment in 2015. Today it hosts art including 14th century paintings to more contemporary art. It boasts a large collection of paintings, watercolours, prints, ceramics and drawings.
In 1879 it was the home of Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition and was given a major boost by John Burton who was a York collector. The Exhibition prior to 1879 was held in a temporary chalet in 1866.
Today the Art Gallery falls under the ownership of York Museums Trust, but in 1892 the building and collection was bought by York City Council. It was closed for a time due to the Second World War when the building was used for military purposes. It reopened again as an art gallery in 1948 after the war had ended. Sadly however, the building suffered some bomb damage during 1942.