The school was established in 1945 in Sopot as the State Institute of Fine Arts. The initiators of its establishment were artists who were good friends with each other: Janusz Strzalecki, Krystyna and Juliusz Studniccy, Hanna and Jacek Żuławscy, Józefa and Marian Wnuk. They came at that time to the coast for they shared a desire to be part of the reconstruction of Gdańsk and contribute to its artistic life. The first academic year was inaugurated on 15 October 1945. Twenty two students began studies then. At the end of that year the school’s name was changed to the State Higher School of Fine Arts (later renamed the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Gdańsk). The curriculum is based on close cooperation of painting and sculpture from applied arts: interior design, furniture, weaving, ceramics and graphics.
A part of the school is also the fifteenth-century, picturesque Straw Tower. The increasing number of students led the school’s authorities to the development of its facilities. In 1968 a new wing, designed by our professor Ryszard Semka, was erected along Tkacka Street. At that time about 150 students were studying.
In 1996 the school was granted the status of an Academy of Fine Arts. Simultaneously, the Faculty of Sculpture was transferred to the Small Armoury, a historical building located in the Stare Przedmieście district which became the property of the Academy. Undergraduate studies were started: art education, photography, interior design, graphic design, post-graduate diploma in architecture”.
The school consisted of three faculties: Painting, Sculpture and Interior Design. From the very beginning the university has been an active centre for the creative. Soon the artistic community associated with the so-called Sopot School gained considerable popularity. It is believed that the distinguishing feature of that environment in times of socialist realism was the idea of colourism, with a particular respect for painting. Its specificity also resulted from close involvement in the reconstruction and rebuilding of the City of Gdańsk. The concept of the Sopot School is also associated with decorative fabric and ceramics. In 1954 the university’s headquarters was moved to Gdańsk, to the Great Armoury rebuilt after the destruction of the war. Built in the early seventeenth-century, located between Targ Węglowy (Coal Market) and Piwna Streets, it is the best example of Netherlands’ architecture in Gdańsk and one of the most valuable monuments in the city.
19 May 2009 the project “Increasing access to art education, by improving the infrastructure of Fine Arts in Gdańsk” received recommendations by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage on the indicative list of Priority XI: Culture and cultural heritage of the Operational Programme Infrastructure and Environment. An agreement on co-financing the project from European funds was signed on 2 June 2010 by Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski and Academy Rector Prof. Ludmiła Ostrogórska.