Horta Museum was established in 1977. It was set up in the former Jesuit college, an 18th century building attached to Faial island's Main Church.
Its precipitous location over a central space of the city of Horta, with Duque d'Ávila e Bolama square in front of it, provides the entire Jesuit architectural set with a notable air. It is classified as a Regional Monument (Resolution no. 41/80 of 11 June).
Horta Museum is categorised as a Regional Museum, and it is a history museum, taking into account the diversity and quality of its collection. Its policy in terms of acquisitions, preservation and research is conducted on a region-wide scale.
Horta Museum was allocated in 1997 the Permanent Exhibition of Capelinhos Volcano, and this exhibition was definitively integrated into the museum as a separate centre in 2000, taking the name of Capelinhos Museum Centre. This centre houses a permanent exhibition, focused solely on the subject of the last volcanic eruption on the island, in 1957.
Horta Museum is a repository of heritage of symbolic value that comprises a heterogeneous set of collections covering a vast subject area. The collection was created from public and private deposits, donations and acquisitions and it includes items from the 16th century to the present day. The collection is generally divided between the following collections: ethnography, objects and devices connected to former professions and arts and to traditional agricultural technology, and object of linen, wool and ceramic; technological items related to the history of the port of Horta, such as the cable-telegraph stations used in this communications hub of the North Atlantic between the 19th and 20th centuries; sacred art; plastic arts; photography; written and printed documents; objects of natural history, mineralogy and geology.
Another highlight of the museum's collection, in addition to the described items, is a permanent exhibition of scale models predominantly of marine vessels, made from fig kernels. This collection, which is unique in the world, has been part of the museum's collection since 1980 and it focuses on vessels that portray the evolution of navigation throughout history. All the items were made by the same artist, Euclides Rosa. The artist started working on the models around 1936 and took ten years to complete the collection.