Sir Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) began planning the construction of an art gallery in New Brunswick early in the twentieth century. After considering a number of locations, Lord Beaverbrook settled upon the city of Fredericton. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery was gifted to the people of New Brunswick by Lord Beaverbrook and officially opened to the public on September 16, 1959. It was designated as the Provincial Art Gallery on December 2, 1994. In October of 1983, the East Wing was added and in May, 1995 the Marion McCain Atlantic Gallery was opened to the public. In 1999 the Beaverbrook Art Gallery celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s permanent collection was established in 1959 with Lord Beaverbrook's initial gifts that included the donation of valuable British and Canadian works of art, among them paintings by eighteenth-century British masters such as Reynolds and Gainsborough and popular Canadian artists such as Cornelius Krieghoff and members of the Group of Seven.