The Heraklion Archaeological Museum is one the great museums of Greece and the best in the world regarding the Minoan art as it contains the most notable and complete collection of artifacts of the Minoan civilization of Crete. The museum began in 1883 as a simple collection of antiquities. A dedicated building was constructed from 1904 to 1912 at the instigation of two Cretan archaeologists, Iosif Hatzidakis and Stefanos Xanthoudidis.
From 1937, work began on the present earthquake-proof building, designed by the renowned Greek architect Patroklos Karantinos. The museum was damaged during World War II, but the collection survived intact and was again accessible to the public from 1952. A new wing was added in 1964.
Besides the Minoan collection, other periods of Cretan history are covered, from the Neolithic to the Greco-Roman period. The Archaeological Museum at Heraklion is dedicated to Minoan art and artefacts, with a smaller section for post-Minoan art and artefacts.