The Historical Museum of Crete was founded by the Society of Cretan Historical Studies in 1953 and is housed in a neoclassical building of significant architectural merit (the A. & M. Kalokairinos House, 1903) in the city of Heraklion on Crete, an island of Greece. The museum was expanded following the addition of a new wing and floor.
The museum’s permanent collections highlight the art and history of Crete from the 4th century AD up to and including the Second World War. The collections are ordered chronologically and by subject matter, and are combined with visual material and multimedia. They include ceramics, sculptures, coins, jewellery, wall paintings, portable icons, ritual objects, manuscripts, heirlooms, weavings, the reconstructed interior of a Cretan rural home and much more. The museum’s finest exhibits are two paintings by Doménikos Theotokópoulos (more commonly known as El Greco), born in Crete: The Baptism of Christ (1567) and View of Mount Sinai (1570–2), the only works by the artist now on Crete. Another outstanding exhibit is a 4×4 metre mock-up of mid-17th century Chandax (Heraklion), at the time when the city reached its peak under Venetian rule. Of particular interest is the Nikos Kazantzakis Collection, featuring the study and library from the author’s home in Antibes, France, personal effects, manuscripts of his works, first editions of books in various languages, etc.
The temporary exhibition rooms at the Historical Museum of Crete host exhibitions on a wide range of themes (e.g., in summer 2012, the life and work of poet Odysseas Elytis).
The museum library, featuring rare editions and much archive and photographic material, caters for the needs of both researchers and the general public.