Founded in 1436 and designed by the architect Michelozzo on a commission from the Medici ruler Cosimo the Elder, the convent played an important role in the cultural and religious life of Florence, especially at the time of Savonarola.
The museum occupies a vast area of the Dominican convent of San Marco and preserves much of its original atmosphere. The museum owes its renown especially to the paintings of Fra Angelico, one of the great artists of the Renaissance, who frescoed extensive parts of the convent.
There is also an important collection of 16th-century paintings including numerous works by Fra Bartolomeo. The museum has a section devoted to fragments of sculpture and architecture from buildings of the city centre which were demolished in the 19th century.
In the cloisters, in the dormitories, in the cells we find the conventual character well-preserved in the harmonious architectural plan.