The Bergen Visual Arts Museum was established as a county institution in 1878. The collection's story can be traced back to 1825, when Bergen Museum was founded. The statesman W.F.K. Christie (1778–1849) and the well-known painter J.C. Dahl (1788–1857) were the prime movers behind the development of a collection of paintings at the museum.
The Bergen Visual Arts Museum became part of the Bergen Art Museum in 1950. In 2006, Bergen Art Museum (comprised of Lysverket, the Stenersen Collections and the Rasmus Meyer Collections), Permanenten (the West Norway Museum of Decorative Arts), as well as the composer homes of Edvard Grieg, Harald Sæverud and Ole Bull, were consolidated into one museum: KODE Art Museums of Bergen, now KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes.