The museum is located in an architectural monument of national importance, the Krustpils castle, and is one of the oldest municipal museums in Latvia. The museum was founded in 1920 and its collection amounts to approx. 40 000 exhibits. Various literary sources and other documents indicate different years of the construction of Krustpils castle, most often though the year 1237.
The name Krustpils ("krusts” – "cross”; "pils” – "castle”) came about due to a cross notched into the castle’s facade. Up to the mid-19th century the locals used to refer to the "cross-marked castle". The castle was an important hallmark on the traveller’s road to Latgale due to its location on the Rīga - Daugavpils highway. In the 16th century Polish king Stephen Bathory bequeathed the castle back to Nicholas Korfu, and up to the 20th century it remained the family property of the von Korfu barons.
In 1921 the castle was handed over to the Latvian Ministry of Defence. After World War II up to 1993 Krustpils castle was under the management of the Soviet army. Since 1996 the castle has been housing the Jēkabpils History Museum. Guided tours are available offering to explore the castle’s history, view its regular exhibits and see the oldest fragments of the stone castle on the basement floor. The gateway tower offers a panoramic view of the city and contains art exhibitions as well. Tours with audio-guides are available in Latvian, Russian, English and German.