The GAI in Nürnberg was founded in 1946 by the American military government, to serve its own members and dependants in its own occupation zone. In 1947, it was renamed "Amerika Haus" and a public library and cultural program were added as part of the "reeducation" program of the US government. With the start of the Cold War, as Germany became a potential ally, focus shifted to the distribution of anti-Communist information. At the request of German politicians, the Amerika Häuser remained after the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. In the same year, the German-American Women's Club Nürnberg-Fürth e.V. was founded in the GAI. The Club still exists today.
In the 1960s, under President John F. Kennedy, there were plans to change some of the Amerika Häuser into bi-national cultural institutions, because in Europe the spheres of influence of the USA and the Soviet Union were already clearly defined and the USA wanted to focus more on South America and Africa. Therefore, in 1962, the Amerika Haus in Nürnberg became a bi-national center. Its name was officially changed to the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Nürnberg e.V. Financial support was split between German governmental bodies (city, state and nation) and the USIS (United States Information Service). Both Germans and Americans were named as members of the board of directors and administrative board.
Today, the GAI receives funding from the city of Nürnberg, the state of Bavaria and the German national government, as well as support from the cultural affairs department of the American Embassy. For the last several years, the yearly dues of the Friends of the DAI, have helped support the goals of the GAI.
As a bi-national institute, the GAI is a meeting place for members of both nations. It is a place in which the point of view of both Germans and Americans can be discussed and a mutual exchange of values, ideals and cultural achievements is possible. The GAI offers high-quality events focusing on the current societal, political and economic situation in the USA and an extensive cultural program of concerts, readings by authors, English-language films and theatre performances. In addition, English language courses and tests are available, as well as discussion groups which require active participation. A children's and youth program is the newest addition. Information is available about stays in the U.S. for university study, student exchange, trainee programs and young people entering a career. The GAI also offers the largest English-language special library in northern Bavaria, which offers a collection both for research and reading pleasure.