The Gippsland Art Gallery was established in 1965 as the Sale Regional Arts Centre, above the City Library in MacAlister Street, Sale. The Gallery was the first public art venue to open east of Melbourne. A Victorian State Government Grant of £40,000 enabled construction of the Gallery, which was subsequently run by a Committee of Management. The Gallery was staffed entirely by volunteers until its first Director, Gwen Webb OAM, was appointed in 1976. It continued to operate as a community gallery until 1994, when it came under the management of the newly formed Wellington Shire Council. The Gallery relocated into the Port of Sale Civic Centre, where it reopened in 1995.
In July 2015 the Gallery moved next door to the Port of Sale Business Centre, 64-66 Foster Street, Sale as a temporary measure while the old Port of Sale Civic Centre is redeveloped. The new Port development will include an Art Gallery, Library and Information Centre services and is due to be completed by July 2017.
Since its establishment in 1965, the focus of the Collection has been Gippsland and the natural environment. The Gippsland Art Gallery currently owns 1,331 objects, including but not limited to painting, sculpture, works on paper (drawings and prints), photographs, textiles, metalwork, woodwork, and indigenous and tribal art. A selection of Collection works are on display at any one time, while other works in storage can be viewed by appointment.
The Maffra Exhibition Space is also run by the Gippsland Art Gallery and displays artworks with a focus on Gippsland based artists.