The museum was established at the Police Department just after the formation of the Republic in 1924. It initially started with the collection of the columns, column capitals and sarcophagi found in the vicinity of the building. Alyanakzade Halil Kamil Bey from Adana was appointed as a museum director and with his successful work, the accumulated material was moved to the madrasah section of the no longer existing Cafer Pasha Mosque in 1928 and then opened to the public.
The museum was moved to the building presently occupied by the Ethnography Museum at Kuruköprü in 1950. Material from the early ages of Çukurova which was discovered during the excavations carried out at Tarsus/Gözlükule (1934), Mersin/Yumuktepe (1936), Ceyhan/Sirkeli (1938) and Yüreğir/Misis(1958) in particular, was collected at the museum. The museum eventually was filled to the brim with the ethnographic material collected by the Museum Director Ali Rıza Yalman (Yalkın) during the investigations he carried out between 1933 – 1940, and as it was the only museum of the region with material obtained either through purchases or court decisions from a large area reaching from Kahramanmaraş to Gaziantep, the museum moved to its current premises on January 7th, 1972.
At the museum entrance there is a gate lion from the Hittite period and two Augustus statues from Silifke/Taşucu and Uzuncaburç. The exhibited material includes sarcophagi with rich garland decorations, jugs, catapult shots, inscriptions, altars and various architectural elements.
The ground floor is the hall of stone-cut artefacts. A marble sarcophagus depicting the Trojan wars in high relief is from Tarsus and is known as the Akhilleus sarcophagus. There is also a sarcophagus with a medusa from the antique city of Augusta which was submerged because of the Seyhan Dam Reservoir, and a human size bronze Karataş Statue from the Magarsus ancient city in Karataş, both of which are the most popularly viewed pieces of this hall.
At the Hall of Chronological Objects, a large variety of findings are exhibited from the very early ages to the Ottoman period, including offerings, pottery, oil lamps, gods, goddesses and animal figurines. The Mosaic of Orpheus Playing the Lyre, discovered at Tepebağ in Adana, is also in this hall.
At the Hall of Regional Objects, works from the Adana museum’s own collection obtained from the excavations and through purchases are exhibited. Glass object samples with rich forms, Seljuk tiles and seals from various civilizations are also displayed.
At the Hall of Coins, Seals and Jewellery, starting with the Lydians, who were the first to make coins, jewellery and buried treasures discovered in the districts of Adana are exhibited.