Endeavour of the Sabah state government to preserve, promote and further develop the cultures and traditions of the various indigenous ethnics of Sabah in a more organised manner started in 1978 with the establishment of Persatuan Kebudayaan Sabah (PKS) or Sabah Cultural Association.
The establishment of PKS was done through unification of various cultural associations in Sabah. Since then Sabah Cultural Association was actively involved in promoting traditional dances and music. Tan Sri Datuk Haji Suffian Koroh was the first president and most of the association's office bearers were among the local prominent leaders.
In 1989, cultural development efforts were placed under the purview of the Sabah Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, and Sabah Cultural Association was then dissolved. Although Sabah Sport and Culture Board was established since 1981 but its initial activities were mainly focused in the development of sports due to the lack of qualified staffs. Staffs of Sabah Cultural Association were then absorbed to Sabah Sport and Culture Board after the association was dissolved. Since then the board was actively involved in cultural performances. Sabah Art Gallery was established on April 11, 1984 by the board to promote tangible arts.
Awareness to establish a government-owned organisation specifically focusing on the cultural development in Sabah came into view since 1989. In 1996, Sabah Cultural Board was officially established through the Sabah Cultural Board Enactment 1996 by Sabah Legislative Assembly. Sabah Cultural Board is placed under the purview of the minister in charge of culture - currently it is under the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
Presently Sabah Cultural Board is well-known locally and internationally. Its artists have performed in numerous international events like Japan, Australia, Turkey, Germany as well as in ASEAN countries. Its cultural activities are diversified which includes cultural performance, cultural research, training and cultural events.