The department members have been studying the history of Russian art from the late 19th century to the present day. The results of this long-term research have been published in the editions of periodicals, exhibition catalogues, catalogues of the museum collections, albums, the collections of the museum research papers.
The department members are actively involved in the picking of funds of painting, drawing, sculpture. They regularly pick over works at exhibitions and artists’ studios for purchase in the museum collection.
Over the years the department has done extensive work on the development and regular updating of the permanent exhibitions of Belarusian art in the museum and its affiliates. Hundreds of exhibitions from the museum and private collections of Russian art were prepared and exhibited at the museum, its branches, in other exhibition spaces throughout Belarus and abroad.
Much attention is paid to scientific and methodological, and educational activities of the department. The members of the department provide their colleagues from other museums, both domestic and foreign with guidance. They advise scientists, artists, students and graduate students, and in general all those interested in the domestic arts on matters related to the history of Belarusian art and the problems of its modern development. Lectures and tours offered by the department employees to amateurs of fine art, provide them with the opportunity to see the main trends and features of the development of the Russian art in the 20th century.
The department was headed by G.A. Borovik (1957–1964), P.N. Gerasimovich (1964–1981), O.S. Kovalenko (1981–2004), V.V. Voitsekhovskaya (2005–2012), O.A. Arkhipova (2012–2014), N.L. Selitskaya (2014–2015), E.V. Izofatova (since 2015).
The following members worked and work in the department in different years: A.V. Vasilevskaya, E.A. Peterson, E.I. Veter, V.M. Churkina, S.I. Kitanina, A.S. Narkevich, N.N. Kalashnik, V.Y. Buivol, K.V. Barabanov, E.V. Stepanov, A.V. Tchaikovskaya, T.S. Surskaya, A.Y. Smirnova, E.D. Smirnova, L.D. Nalivaiko, M.L. Malgina, Y.S. Zagorskaya, V.V. Skalaban, O.V. Rybchinskaya, B.A. Krepak, N.L. Selitskaya, A.O. Karneiko and others.
The basic publications prepared by the department, and the publications in the preparation of which the members of the department took part:
- The Fine Arts of BSSR. M., 1957.
- The State Art Museum of BSSR. M., 1958.
- P. Gerasimovich. E.A. Zaitsev. M., 1958.
- Belarusian Artists’ Works in the State Art Museum of BSSR. Minsk, 1959.
- The State Art Museum of BSSR. The Russian and Belarusian Art of the 18th–early 20th century. Catalogue-guide. L., 1968.
- The State Art Museum of BSSR. Minsk, 1976.
- P. Gerasіmovіch. V.І. Lenіn in the Fine Arts of Belarus. Minsk, 1978.
- The State Art Museum of BSSR. Minsk, 1979. (the 2nd edition)
- The State Art Museum of BSSR. Minsk, 1999. (the 3rd edition)
- Belarusian Soviet Sculpture from the Collection of the State Art Museum of BSSR. Catalogue. Minsk, 1978.
- Israel Basov. The Catalogue of Paintings. Minsk, 1996.
- Arkadiy Antonovіch Astapovіch. 1896–1941. Zіnaіda Antonovna Astapovіch-Bacharova. 1898–1993. The Catalogue of the Exhibition. Minsk, 1996.
- The Reports of the State Art Museum of BSSR. Issue 1. Minsk, 1994.
- The Reports of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Issue 2. Minsk, 1997.
- The Reports of the National Art Museum of the Republic Belarus. Issue 3. Minsk, 2001.
- El poder de les imatges. Pintura Bielorussa 1930–1970. Cataleg. Barselona, 1997.
- Jacob Kruger. The Catalogue of the Works. Minsk, 2000.
- Pan and Chagall. The Master and his Student. Painting and Graphics from the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, Vitebsk Regional Local History Museum and Vitebsk Museum of Marc Chagall. Riga, 2001.
- The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Guide. Minsk, 2002.
- Mіkhaіl Savіtskiy. Painting. The Exhibition of the Works Dedicated to the 80th Birth Anniversary. Minsk, 2002.
- Vіtaly Konstantinovich Tsvіrko. Painting, Watercolor Painting. Minsk, 2003.
- The Masterpieces of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. The Catalogue of the Exhibition at the State Tretyakov Gallery. Minsk, 2004.
- The Treasures of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Minsk, 2004.
- The Art of the 1920–1950s. The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Minsk, 2006.
- Helena Aladova. A Museum is her Fortune. Minsk, 2006.
- My Minsk. Anatoliy Tychina. Minsk, 2008.
- Nikolai Seleshchuk. The Album-catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition Works “Home-coming”. Minsk, 2008.
- Link of Times. 100 Porters of the 16th–20th centuries from the Collection of the National Art Museum of Belarus. Minsk, 2008.
- Vitaly Tsvirko. Famous Artists from Belarus. Minsk, 2012.