The Art Association of Tromso was founded in 1877 and has been working continuously since 1924, making it one of Tromso's oldest cultural institutions.
Tromsø Kunstforening is the central art exhibition in Northern Norway and highlights recent and experimental contemporary art in its programme. In exhibitions and projects, the art association works as an international artist with a special focus on artists and themes particularly related to the north. Among the artists who have exhibited at the Tromsø Art Association are A.K. Dolven, Andres Serrano, Per Enoxen, Osa Sonjasdotter, Olga and Alexander Florenski, Sven Polsson, Jesper Just, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Annika Larsson and Geir Jenssen. In addition to exhibitions, the art association places great emphasis on training and distribution to different groups. Seminars, debates, lectures and excursions are organized on a regular basis. Every year thousands of children and young people visit the art association under the aegis of the cultural school bag.
Since 1981, the art association has been housed in the old building of the Tromso Museum, built in 1894 to a design by the architect Lars Solberg. It is located between the House of the County, the Mac Brewery and the Polyaria. The exhibition area is approx. 450 m².
PolArt is an example of a recurring project related to the northern regions. Every year, in collaboration with the Arctos research network and the Municipality of Tromsø County, the Art Association invites artists to participate in a three-stage project that consists of a research trip with ships in the North Sea, a stay in the guest studios of the Municipality of Tromsø County and a group exhibition at the Art Association of Tromsø. The project continues since 2007 and aims to create new links between art and research.
Tromsø Kunstforening is a membership-based organisation. Its supreme body is the General Assembly, which elects the council of the art association. The board appoints the intendant (leader) of the art association. The curator is responsible for the association's daily activities and artistic programme. The Artistic Association is managed by public and private foundations, and the Municipality of Tromsø is its most important partner. The chairman of the board of the Tromsø Art Association is Nadja Traning, in 2014 Leif Magne Tangen became intendant after Swein Ingvoll Pedersen.