Museum of Monterey

Follow the story of this fascinating area from the first inhabitants 6000 years ago, to the days of Cannery Row and beyond.

The Museum of Monterey opened almost a century ago as a collection of model ships and maritime artifacts collected by one-time sailor Allen Knight. Today's museum maintains a strong emphasis on maritime history and the town’s links with the ocean. 

The story of Monterey’s past is told through thousands of local artifacts, photographs, papers and costumes. There’s also a collection of paintings and sculptures from local artists, both past and contemporary, including works by local sculptor Jo Mora, who is known for the impressive Miguel Cervantes Memorial in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. 

Learn about the lives of the Rumsien and Ohlone Native American tribes, who first settled this area, and the coming of the Spanish explorers and missionaries who would change life here forever. There’s an interesting and extensive collection of scale-model boats and ships to explore. See the models of early Spanish and English merchant ships, as well as 20th-century U.S. naval vessels. There’s also a sardine fishing boat from when Monterey was considered the “sardine capital of the world.” 

For a glimpse of how American fashion has changed since the mid-19th-century, slip into the costume collection, which features early fishing costumes and immigrant attire. The array of early to mid-20th-century hats is particularly impressive. 

Head to the Casa Serano Adobe to admire the decorative arts and crafts of Monterey’s first families, including locally made Civil War–era furniture. 

The Museum of Monterey is located on the waterfront at Customs House Plaza in downtown Monterey. It’s open every day except Mondays in Summer, and Mondays and Tuesdays in winter. Entry is free during specified hours on the first Wednesday of every month. Check the museum’s website for the hours and for a schedule of events, talks and films.

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