Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin established the Government Institute of Art in 1948 which was the first educational art institute in this country and eventually became the main centre of art and cultural practice. At its beginning, there were six teachers (Anwarul Huq, Quamrul Hasan, Safiuddin Ahmed, Habibur Rahman and Syed Ali Ahsan) along with Zainul Abedin as the Principal and eighteen students. The activities of this Institute started with two departments – Fine Art (at present Drawing and Painting) and Commercial Art (at present Graphic Design). The Institute was started in DNMI Hospital building at Johnson Road in Dhaka. In 1952 the Institute was moved to a building at Segun Bagicha and then in 1956, it was moved to its own premises at Shahbagh.
In 1983 this college merged as an Institute with Dhaka University. Honours courses were introduced from the 1992-93 session. The Institute was turned into the Faculty of Fine Art of Dhaka University in 2008. At present, there are eight departments in this Faculty. There are 63 permanent teachers. Professor Nisar Hossain of Drawing and Painting Department has been performing the responsibilities of elected Dean of the Faculty since 30 April 2019.