The Museum of Monterey holds over 50,000 artifacts, costumes and textiles, photographs, and historic papers in the collection.
The 580 glass prisms of the historic Fresnel lens from the Point Sur Lightstation illuminate the Museum and its exhibit areas, from the Rumsien/Ohlone Indians and Spanish explorers, to the area shipwreck USS Macon and military presence, to Monterey’s era as the sardine capital of the world, and the Hotel Del Monte, fabled destination of tourism's early days.
The Museum of Monterey can trace its origins as far back as 1931, when Amelie Elkinton, then curator of Monterey’s old Mexican-era Custom House, dreamed of a waterfront maritime museum. The Monterey History & Art Association first began its own quest for a waterfront museum in 1966. But the need became more pressing in 1970, when Adele Knight, widow of MHAA member and former Association president Allen Knight, donated her late husband’s extensive maritime collection to the Association.
The first museum opened in 1971 as the Allen Knight Maritime Museum, housed in the basement of the Monterey Museum of Art on Calle Principle. After much planning and fundraising, the museum opened the doors at the new Stanton Center, named for Robert and Virginia Stanton, on October 31, 1992.