The Tokyo Fine Arts School (the predecessor of Tokyo University of the Arts / the former name: Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music) started to collect art materials for education and research prior to its foundation in 1887. These were first stored in the library called "Bunko" and then were archived in the University Library for many years after the unification of Tokyo Fine Arts School and Tokyo Music School in 1949.
In 1970, music materials archived by the Faculty of Music since its preceding Tokyo Music School period were added to the collection as the art section was separated from the library to form the Art Museum, an inter-university research institute of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Faculty of Music.
In 1999, The University Art Museum was opened in response to the aging of the facilities and the needs of the storage and exhibition space commensurate with the scale of the collection. Today this collection is one of Japan's largest with about 30,000 pieces, distinguished by Japanese modern arts, including works of former teachers and students.