Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands and lies in the Southern Aegean Sea not far from the coast of Turkey. Over the centuries its people have been closely concerned with shipping but the unique feature of its industrial heritage is its role since classical times in cultivating the mastic tree, Pistacia lentiscus and processing its gum to make a variety of compounds used throughout the world. The tree is grown widely for medicinal and ornamental uses across the Mediterranean and in Mexico, but only the trees on Chios can be made to yield a gum that can be used in these compounds. The Mastichochoria (Mastic villages) lie in the southern part of the island.
Research projects into the history of the industry took place in 2007-08, and in 2009 it was decided to build a museum on a site given by the Chios Mastic Growers Association, the co-operative that organises production on the island. The project received financial support from the European Union. There are both indoor and outdoor sections. Visitors can learn how the tree is cultivated, and can examine the tools and machines used in the processing of mastic gum. There are multi-media and interactive displays and an archive and library. The museum is surrounded by plantations of mastic trees. The museum is supported by the cultural foundation of the Piraeus Bank, which maintains internet site and email connections. The cultivation of mastic on Chios was recognised by UNESCO in 2014 as a unique natural product.