The American Council for Southern Asian Art came into being in 1963 as the American Committee for the History of South Asian Art. It was founded by Pramod Chandra with the primary goal of undertaking the establishment of an “American Academy” in India dedicated to the study of South Asian art. The original membership included W. Norman Brown, J.A.B. van Buitenen, Pramod Chandra, J. Leroy Davidson, Diran Dohinian, Richard Ettinghausen, Stella Kramrisch, Sherman Lee, Aschwin Lippe, Prudence Myer, John Rosenfield, Benjamin Rowland, Lawrence Sickman, Alex Soper, Walter Spink, and Stuart C. Welch.

The American Academy in Benaras was officially opened in 1965 and the ACHSAA (which in 1967 dropped the word “history” from its title and became ACSAA) served as its governing committee until 1969, at which time the American Institute of Indian Studies assumed full responsibility for the Academy.

ACSAA’s principal purpose shifted at that point, and it became a membership organization with a regular conference dedicated to the presentation of research on South Asian art. The first conference was held in 1981 in Minneapolis. Since that time, ACSAA has continued to hold bi-annual symposia as well as to regularly sponsor academic papers and panels at the annual conferences of the College Art Association and the Association for Asian Studies, with which it is affiliated. Additional services provided for ACSAA’s members include the ACSAA Color Slide Project (1974-2006) and the Newsletter (since 2008, known as the ACSAA Bulletin).

In 1996, ACSAA’s title was changed to the American Council for Southern Asian Art, for the purpose of explicitly including the study of Southeast Asian art in its scope. This name still holds today.