The history of collection of the museum begins from the art gallery named after T.Shevchenko, which was created in 1935. The museum was founded rather recently – in 1976, but it is already the largest museum of fine arts in Kazakhstan. And in 1984 it was named after the national artist of Kazakhstan Abilkhan Kasteev.
Today the collection of museum contains more than 22500 unique exhibits of fine and applied art from countries of Asia, Europe and America. The collection of such number of various works makes the competition to many museums of the world.
The fund of museum includes the works of many artists, who were prohibited during Soviet time, and also the collection of paintings (1100 works) of famous avant-garde artist Sergey Kalmikov, who passed the second half of his life in Almaty, and wrote here the major part of his works. Also, in XX century the art style of weaving – tapestry – was quite popular. The certain area is occupied by the collection of tapestry, created by artists and national masters of Kazakhstan.
The entire exposition of the museum is performed in historically chronological order and gives the opportunity to retrace the way of development of global and Kazakh art. The museum runs 9 centers, which are engaged in the issues of painting of Kazakhstan, applied art, classic and modern foreign art, restoration, exhibitions, excursions and publishing activity.
Every year the museum holds scientific conferences, dedicated to the world and Kazakh art. And exhibitions of modern art attract the residents and guests of Southern Capital.