Since the formation of the Calpe Artists Society in 1954, the local art fraternity had dreamt of the setting up of a Gibraltar National Art Gallery to exhibit and celebrate the work of highly talented local artists. A location was sought for the gallery, and it was decided that there would be no better place for it than the City Hall, a historical building of grandeur and beauty. The Housing Department, which had occupied the building for many years, was thus moved to another location and works commenced on a refurbishment programme to accommodate the art gallery.
Gibraltarian artist Mario Finlayson BEM was, for many years, a leading and staunch campaigner in the quest for a National Art Gallery in Gibraltar. In January 2015, Gibraltar Cultural Services, on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, organised an art exhibition dedicated to the artistic life and works of Mario Finlayson, now considered the doyen of Gibraltar’s fine arts, having dedicated his whole life to the cause. At the inauguration of this exhibition, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, The Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, announced that the Gallery would be be named “The Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery”.