The Museum of Arts named after Savitsky first opened its doors in 1966. The founder of the Museum was I.V. Savitsky, a Moscow artist, who came to Karakalpakstan in 1950 as part of the archaeological and ethnographic expedition at the invitation of the head of this group, S. Tolstov. Getting acquainted with the folk arts and crafts of Karakalpaks, he was fascinated to the depths of his soul by the original beauty and the highest art of performance of national items and was eager to collect and systematize them, to protect them from oblivion, especially since no one was involved in collecting and studying this wealth of folk art at the beginning of the last century. So the idea gradually transformed into a purposeful work on the creation of the Museum, which became the meaning of his life. Invaluable assistance in creation of the Museum and in getting the collection was provided by the academician Marat Nurmukhamedov, who actively supported I.V. Savitsky in all his undertakings throughout his life, as well as the head of Karakalpak region Kamalov K.K., Karakalpak sculptor Joldasbek Kuttymuratov, the first stage artist Kdyrbay Saipov and the first museum staff, passionate active enthusiasts Panjinskaya V.A., Galillulina G.R., Zholdasov E., Dospanov O., Sycheva, E.V. and many other companions of Savitsky.
When accumulating the collection, Savitsky was guided by the principles of discovering new names, undeservedly forgotten artists, especially in the 1920s and 30s, who, in his opinion, made a huge contribution to the development of Russian and Uzbek fine arts, in particular, the modern avant-garde direction of painting. Due to his subtle sense for talented works and active ascetic frame of mind, tens of thousands of works were saved and new names were discovered, which became the pride of the fine arts of Uzbekistan of the twentieth century – P.P. Benkov, L.L. Bure, V.P. Gan, A.N. Volkov, V.N. Yeremyan, A.S. Ermolenko, U. Tansykbaev, N.G. Karakhan, N.V. Kashina, Z.M. Kovalevskaya, M.I. Kurzin, R.M. Mazel, A.V. Nikolaev (Usto Mumin), V. Ufimtsev, J. Bekanov, A. Yerimbetov, F. Esengaliev, A. Kurbanbayev, K. Saipov and many other artists of different nationalities, which were united by the love of art and of the country in which they lived and created a panorama of history and life in the language of painting and graphics. As always, when creating something new, there are all sorts of bureaucratic obstacles, and sometimes underestimating of the importance for the history of those works of art of the early twentieth century, in the collection of which Savitsky put all his soul and energy. Even with public funding, he was sorely lacking funds for purchasing exhibits, as he accumulated them in large numbers. And he could not find philanthropists in those years, and how could there be philanthropists in the Soviet era? Transportation of paintings by Russian artists from Moscow to Nukus was also accompanied by great difficulties and problems. Trains from Moscow did not get to Nukus, and stopped in Khodjeyli city. Sometimes Savitsky brought a train-load of exhibits, which had to be unloaded in 10 minutes, and then taken to Nukus, systematized, processed and arranged. But his work forever left the memory of this beautiful Museum, which, cordially opens its doors, and pleases visitors with a rich collection of national products and household items of Karakalpak masters, paintings of Russian and Uzbek artists of the early twentieth century. Today Karakalpak State Museum of Arts named after I.V. Savitsky is one of the largest museums in Uzbekistan. Its collection of more than a million artefacts and exhibits is recognized as the second in the world in importance and volume among the collections of avant-garde works, as well as one of the best art funds in the the Asian region.
The purpose of the Museum was to introduce the local population to the art, to preserve for descendants the items and products of the national folk arts and crafts. The Museum exhibits are divided into three thematic sections: Ancient and Medieval Art, Folk Arts and Crafts, Modern Fine and Decorative Art of the twentieth century. The exposition of the Department of Ancient and Medieval Art, dedicated to Khorezm, on the lands on which Karakalpakstan is located, consists of ceramics and metal items, sculpture, frescoes, etc. items found during the archaeological excavations, of which the oldest artefacts date back to the I-II centuries. The Department of Folk Arts and Crafts was created from the collection of products of Karakalpak masters and needlewomen, which includes carpets, embroidery, appliqués, women’s jewelry, hats and clothing, national musical instruments, utensils, and household items.