Unlike the collection of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, acquired by one person, the collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings at the National Museum in Gdansk came into existence as collective acquisitions made by generations of enlightened citizens. From the early 1800s, paintings had been collected with a view of establishing a public museum and in 1870 they were donated to a municipal museum founded in the same year. The collection reflects the tastes and financial potential of the wealthy bourgeoisie, who were becoming more and more impoverished in changing political an economic circumstances. Over the years, the collection was systematically enriched by the successive curators of the gallery with purchases made in Gda 4;sk and at European auctions.
During the war, to protect them from damage and pillage, the paintings were concealed in many places in and outside Gdansk. After the war was over, less than a half of the pre-war collection was returned to the gallery. In 1956, after years of wartime in the Soviet Union, the greatest pride of the National Museum in Gdansk, Hans Memlings Triptych The Last Judgment was retrieved together with works of such other masters as Ferdinand Bol, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Albert Cuyp, Gerrit Dou, Anthon van Dyck, Jan van Goyen, Pieter Lastman, Adriaen van Ostade, Jacob Isaacsz. van Swanenburgh and David Teniers the Younger.
For the first time, The National Museum in Gdansk is staging a representative exhibition of 34 Dutch and Flemish paintings dating from 16th to 18th century at the Brukenthal National Museum in Sibiu.