The University of Michigan-Dearborn has been collecting art since the 1960's when C. Edward Wall became Director of the Library. He was a collector himself and believed that art glass in particular would be the next frontier in collecting. The library continued to collect art over the years and to show it in the library. When the current library was built in 1979-80, the plan was to show works of art in the library as had always been done. This continued to be the case until 1997, when the temporary gallery was established on the library's third floor. The increased security enables the gallery to borrow works from other collections, show more of its own works, as well as continuing to show works in display cases on the other floors of the library. University art is also on display in other buildings and campus offices. Alfred Berkowitz was one of several glass collectors interested in the gallery. He donated many pieces of art, and provided funding for the gallery during the course of his connection with the university. The gallery was named after him to recognize these contributions. He died in a car accident in 1999.
The Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, painter Joseph Marks, joined UM-D in 1978, first as the slide curator for the art history discipline, becoming the Curator of the Collections and Exhibitions 1984. In 1996, Ken Gross was brought in as director of the Art Museum Project in hopes that adequate funding could be raised to build a museum for the collection. With the death in 2007 of Electra Stamelos, who was a painter, retired art instructor, and Director of Acquisitions and Exhibitions at UM-Dearborn, her husband William Stamelos decided to contribute to the gallery fund in a major way. Plans to locate this gallery on the first floor of the library are underway.
As of August 6th, 2014, Joseph Marks has retired from the university. With 36 years of exceptional work here at the university, he has been honored with the title of Curator Emeritus.