The main public service mission of the Institute is to carry out researches concerning the history of arts in Hungary. The institute carries out its activities as a public service mission using advanced research methods according to the national and international standards of the discipline of art history. Its researchers curate important exhibitions in Hungary and abroad. Main topics of the research projects carried out by the Institute are concerned with the cultural heritage in Hungary, research of sources regarding the art and architecture in Hungary and art theory. The Institute’s basic task is to collect, professionally archive and publish the documents and sources in this regards. The new structure of the Institutes within the HAS however makes possible and necessary the cooperation in interdisciplinary research projects involving the partner Institutes of the Research centre fro the Humanities of the HAS and other national and international scientific organizations.

Besides managing research projects and organizing scientific programs the Institute is aiming at publishing the research results in its journal Ars Hungarica. The series Művészettörténeti Füzetek (Cahiers d’histoire de l’art) was published under the auspicies of the Institute for decades. The Acta Historiae Artium, foreign language professional journal of art history, is edited by Pál Lővei. The Hungarian edition of the world's largest artists' lexikon, the 'Artists of the World' [De Gruyter] takes place in our institute. It is a special task of the Institute to operate the Psychiatric Art Collection and to conduct professional and scientific control over the Art Collection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.