Zwicker's Gallery was started 1886 by Judson Zwicker, who operated the gallery for 51 years. The gallery was the focus of many artistic activities in Halifax, in the almost total absence of any public institutions displaying art. Many local artists gathered in the gallery to see each other's work and to organize painting trips to the surrounding area.
It was not until the 1970s that the university community started to provide public galleries that offered professional curatorial services to the local visual arts community. Also the establishment of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia helped to provide a permanent public venue for local, national and international art exhibitions.