The Scientific and Research Department of Russian Art was established in 1957. Petr Gerasimovich (1912-1990) was appointed the first head of the Department. From 1964 to 2000 the Department was run by Elena Resina, and from 2000 to 2010 – by Tatiana Reznik. Since 2010 the Department was headed by Alexey Khoryak. Over the years Roman Badin (1930-1999), Nina Marchenko, Elena Shaposhnikova, Tamara Karandasheva, Marina Trofimava, Inna Tomasheva and others worked in the Department.
The fund of Russian art, including painting, sculpture, graphics, and works of decorative art of the 18th–19th centuries is the pride of the Museum collection. The high artistic value of the collection of Russian art of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus made it internationally famous.
The Scientific and Research Department of Foreign Art exists in the Museum since June 1990. At that time the Foreign Art Division was organized, which in May 1991 received the Department status and was headed by Tamara Karandasheva.
From 1976 to 1989, the scientific research of the museum foreign art collections was carried out by the senior researcher Nina Baranovskaya (1914-1989). She developed the first scientific card catalogues of the collections and introduced the results of the research into scientific discource through various types of publications, articles and expositions. In 2000, the collection of works of culture and art of the East was joined to the fund of the Western European art. It presents the traditional arts of the countries of the Western, Middle, Central, South and South-East Asia, the Caucasus and the Far East: painting and sculpture, miniature and folk art paintings, weaving and metal artworks, ceramics and porcelain, painted and cloisonne enamel, carved wood, bone and stone, painted and carved lacquers. At the same year the Department was renamed the Department of Western European Art and Art of the East. And, since 2002, according to staff register of the Museum, it was named the Scientific and Research Department of Foreign Art. Since May 2003, the Department was headed by Elena Senkevich.
In 2013 both departments (the Department of Russian Art and the Department of Foreign Art) were joined into the Scientific and Research Department of Russian and Foreign Art. Alexey Khoryak was appointed the Head of Department. Since November 2017 the Department is headed by Svetlana Prokopjeva.
The Department members (Elena Senkevich, Yulia Lisaj, Darya Bartoshuk, Nikita Monich, Ekaterina Dasko and Svetlana Prokopjeva) read lectures, conduct museum programs and tours of the museum's permanent exposition and exhibitions, conduct scientific work on the study and cataloging of collections, popularizing the works of the museum collection, organizing and holding exhibitions. The Department's area of priority is scientific and research work. The Department members also engage in pedagogical work in the universities of Minsk: reading lectures on art history and attribution of works of art (Svetlana Prokopjeva, Yulia Lisaj); provide advice on scientific subjects of the Department; perform art historical examination on the appeals of public organizations and private individuals (Svetlana Prokopjeva, Elena Senkevich, Yulia Lisaj).
In addition to the primary activities, the staff of the Department act as keepers of collections of foreign painting, sculpture and graphics (Svetlana Prokopjeva), Russian graphics (Yulia Lisai), applied and decorative art of the East (Elena Senkevich), Belarusian painting (Ekaterina Dasko).
To date, the work on the cataloging of the fund is nearly completed. Under the scientific editorship of Elena Resina The staff of the department prepared and published the "Catalog of Russian and Soviet Sculpture" (1977), "Catalog of Russian Pre-Revolutionary and Soviet Engraving and Lithography" (1984), "Catalog of Russian Pre-Revolutionary and Soviet Painting" in 2 volumes (Vol. 1, 1995; Vol. 2, 1997). By now, the catalog "Russian Drawings and Watercolor of the 18th–19th centuries" has been prepared for publication. Cataloging on the newly acquired Russian printed graphics of the 19th–early 21st century is in progress at present. In 2008 the "Sculpture of the Countries of the Western and Eastern Europe in the Collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus" catalog was published. Catalog "Ceramics and Porcelain of China from the Collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus" Is prepared for printing. The following catalogs are in progress: "Western European Graphics in the Collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus"; "Western European Painting in the Collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus"; "Chinese Folk Painting in the Collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus"; "Vietnamese Folk Painting in the Collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus"; "Ceramics and Porcelain of Japan from the Collection of National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus".
The Department members take an active part in the publication of museum collections. In particular, Tatiana Reznik and Elena Resina wrote articles on the Russian art for the following albums: "The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Art of the 15th–early 20th century", "Treasures of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus", compact-disk "The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. Electronic Catalog of the Permanent Exposition"; in 2010 the Department members Tatiana Reznik, Alexey Khoryak, Vladimir Volodin participated in the preparation of the catalog album "Works by Ivan Khrutski in the Collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus".