Fifty years ago, on 26th January 1961, the Institute of Art History was founded in Zagreb, an institution that during half a century of its existence and continuous work played an important role in the development of the art history science in Croatia. The institute was founded under the auspices of the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb and its Art History Department by Prof. Grgo Gamulin (1910-1997) and Prof. Milan Prelog (1919-1988). The study of art history at the University of Zagreb was founded already in 1878 and the Institute of Art History was established as its essential enlargement and operational framework for systematic territory investigations of Croatian artistic heritage. In the beginning the Institute encompassed art history and archaeology, but in 1965 two separate Institutes within the framework of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Zagreb University developed.
From 1968 the Institute becomes legally independent research unit of the University of Zagreb. In 1993 the Institute steps out from the University and becomes one of independent public research institutes with the founding rights in hands of the Republic of Croatia. In 2010 the Institute opened its branch-office in Split, which was named Centre Cvito Fisković and which is developing into one of the centres of Mediterranean art history. Since 2006 the Institute is a member of RIHA (International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art). The share of the Institute is especially great in research and in presentations of national artistic heritage from Dubrovnik and the whole Adriatic coast to the north-west Croatia and Slavonia.
During work on many research projects an abundant architectural and photographic documentation was produced at the Institute, which becomes a central point of documentation resources for Croatian art history. Since 1972 the Institute issues a scientific Journal of the Institute of Art History, and since 1974 the journal Life of Art, dedicated to events in modern artistic creation, that was earlier issued by Matica Hrvatska in Zagreb. From 2004 the Institute has been issuing also a periodical Quarter as a newsletter of art history field in Croatia. Since 1980 the Institute has published 40 scientific monographies and the series of other publications dedicated to Croatian artistic heritage that were mostly produced as a result oft he research done by the scientists from the Institute and their co-operators. Urban and architecture research, elaboration of art history studies and monographies, gradual preparation of Croatian artistic topography, publishing and documentation work have established themselves as fundamental components of Institute activities. As concerns scientific elaboration, expert presentation, critical evaluation and continual care for Croatian artistic heritage in its historic time span and modern surroundings the Institute is a basic national institution enjoying international respect and influence. Milan Pelc Director of the Institute of Art History.