On April 24, 1852 the British Secretary of State wrote to the respective administrations in the Imperial Colonies to solicit the founding of an association similar to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, established in London. The then Governor of Malta, Sir William Reid, obliged by enlisting the collaboration of Baron C Azopardi and of others to form the first Management Committee of the Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
During the 160 of active years the MSA organized competitions, exhibitions, participated in overseas expositions, and awarded medals. Many Maltese artists and craftsmen had been also aided to proceed abroad to further and complete their artistic studies. The MSA gained enough prestige to acquire official recognition and the Patronage of different Governors, successive Presidents and Archbishops of Malta.
The MSA was the first institution in Malta to set up a School of Lace, organized adult classes in arts, crafts and music., pioneered the Apprenticeship Schemes, Technical education, and represented in Malta the London College of Music (London) for nearly 80 years, with Palazzo de La Salle as the Malta Centre for these Examinations.
Maltese Governments helped the MSA over the years, through an annual financial grant and free concessions, including the lease of Palazzo de La Salle where the MSA conducts and carries out its activities.