The art gallery was founded on the 5th of September 1962, and it initially functioned as an art department of the Gabrovo History museum. The exhibition has hardly 40 artworks – paintings and sculpture. Names such as Ivan Murkvichka, Iaroslav Veshin, Vladimir Dimitrov – the Master and others stand out among the authors. Central place in the exhibition is allocated to Hristo Tsokev, represented through five canvas paintings – all of them portraits of famous people from the period of late revival.
The data we have about the initial fund is scarce. There is information, that some of the paintings have come from the Historiographic association in Gabrovo, founded during 1920 by the initiative of doctor Petar Tsonchev. Part of the “Old masters” collection is provided by the National Art Gallery.
From a then publication in the local press, it becomes clear that the aim, which the creators have is: “…to find, collect and show to the citizens the best artworks of the artists from the town and the area, as to the older, so to the younger artists. This way the visitor will have the opportunity to gain a more complete idea for the development of the visual art in the Gabrovo area, to get to know its most notable representatives and their artworks. The art gallery will take an important place in the cultural life of the area for education of the aesthetic feeling of the working people.”
During 1974, the gallery becomes a separate institution, with its own building, built for the first edition of GAE “The man and the labor”. Since 1987 it bears the name of the born in Gabrovo Hristo Tsokev – one of the first Bulgarian artists with an academic education, who graduated from the Moscow school of art.
The history of the gallery is connected to names such as Kancho Tsanev, Mincho Minchev, Mitio Solakov, Nikola Nikolov, Svetlin Rusev and some other famous Bulgarian artists.
The gallery has a massive specialized exhibition spaces, with a total area of 1500 sq.m. The content of the represented in them artistic phenomena is oriented towards the traditional audiences. Group and thematic exhibitions predominate mainly. Over 3000 works of art are kept in the funds storages with an area of 500 sq.m.
The art gallery is a host of four traditional exhibitions: National exhibition "Spring salon of the women artists"; Exhibition dedicated to the day of Gabrovo; Autumn salon and Annual exhibition of the Gabrovo artists.
The “Hristo Tsokev” art gallery is an organizer of the International painting plein air “BOZHENTSI” and of the National painting triennial “BRIDGES” and co-organizer of Cildrens' biennial under the patronage of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in Bulgaria, and with the support of the Honorable counselor of the Republic of Bulgaria in Flanders, Belgium.
Along with guest exhibitions, here different cultural events also take place: representation of books; musical evenings and events; celebrations on the occasion of granting of different awards.