The Painting Center was founded in 1993 by a group of artists who felt there was an urgent need for a space devoted entirely to the exhibition of paintings. After locating a space on 52 Greene Street in Soho, they worked to prepare it as a gallery space. In September of that year, they launched an inaugural show featuring forty-nine artists including Jake Berthot, Louise Fishman, Bill Jensen, and Milton Resnick. This exhibition celebrated the first season of The Painting Center and brought attention to it as a new exhibition space.

Now located at 547 West 27th Street, The Painting Center has a larger Main Gallery space measuring over 1,200 square feet and a second space known as The Project Room, which measures 400 square feet. Now in its 24th year, The Painting Center has shown thousands of artists in a variety of formats: solo and group exhibitions, exhibitions curated both by outside curators and exhibitions organized by members.

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