Anglican Bishop Andrew Burn Suter died in March 1895. After resigning as Bishop of Nelson, he and his wife, Amelia, discussed finding a piece of land in Nelson on which an art gallery could be built for the city. The Bishop Suter Art Gallery Trust was formed by a private Act of Parliament in 1896. Its first chairman was Bishop Mules.

The board continued to administer the affairs of the Bishop Suter Art Gallery throughout the 20th century. After extensive consultation with the community, The Nelson City Council agreed in October 2006 to begin the process to make the Gallery a Council Controlled Organisation. In 2008 the original Act of Parliament establishing the Suter was overturned. It was replaced with the Bishop Suter Art Gallery Governance Restructuring Act, placing the gallery under Nelson City Council governance, managed by the newly formed Bishop Suter Trust.

This charitable trust, incorporated in New Zealand under the Charitable Trusts Act 2005, has the primary objective to provide the people of Nelson and visitors to the region access to our cultural heritage and to the many forms of contemporary cultural expression.

The trustees are:

Craig Potton: Chairperson, Chair Collections Committee, Chair Marketing & Promotion Subcommittee, Chair Legacy and Fundraising Subcommittee

Gay Hervey: Deputy Chair, Chair Remuneration and HR Subcommittee, Marketing & Promotion Subcommittee

John Hambleton: Chair Audit & Risk/Remuneration Subcommittee; Asset Management Subcommittee

Jane du Feu: Ko Te Pouaranga appointee, Redevelopment Project iwi liaison, Remuneration and HR Subcommittee

Margaret Soderberg

Larisse Hall: Ex-officio member, President of the Nelson Suter Art Society