The Maritime 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 Maritime Museum of Monterey opened in 1971 as the Allen Knight Maritime Museum, housed in the basement of the Monterey Museum of Art on Calle Principle. After extensive planning and fundraising, the new Maritime Museum of Monterey and History Center opened its doors on October 31, 1992.
Today the Maritime Museum holds almost 6000 artifacts, over 50,000 photographs, and 6000 books and papers in the collection. The 580 glass prisms of the historic Fresnel lens from the Point Sur Lightstation illuminate the Maritime Museum and its seven exhibit areas, from the Rumsien/Ohlone Indians and Spanish explorers, to the USS Macon and war in the Pacific, to Monterey’s era as the sardine capital of the world.
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