Monterey... a living museum

Explore Historic Monterey

The Explore Historic Monterey cell phone tours and brochure were made possible by a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service.

Preserving History

Restored Pacific Biological Laboratories specimen tanks

Ed Ricketts’ Marine Specimen Tanks, 1928-1948

In October 2010, as part of a grant awarded to the City of Monterey by the Community Foundation for Monterey County, conservators stabilized and protected the concrete specimen tanks located in back of the Pacific Biological Laboratories building. Marine biologist Ed Ricketts used the tanks to store marine specimens for his research and in preparation for shipment to schools, universities and museums. The tanks were originally built by Vicente Rodriguez, the previous owner of the Lab site, who used them for his fish salting and sardine pressing operation. Ricketts began using the tanks when he moved to the site in 1928.

Featured News and Events


Colton Hall Evening Music Series at Few Memorial Hall (City Council Chambers)

The Colton Hall Museum and Cultural Arts Commission of the City of Monterey is calling for artists to perform as part of the year 2017 Colton Hall Evening Music series.

This year the acoustic concerts will be held in Few Memorial Hall beginning at 7:00 PM and last for approximately an hour.  The performances will be presented the second Wednesday of the month: February 8,  March 8 and April 12.  Due to the costs of renting and delivering pianos, piano concerts are no longer offered as part of this series.

If you are interested in performing in the year 2017 Colton Hall Evening Music series, please submit the following information to Colton Hall Museum, 570 Pacific Street, City Hall, Monterey for review by the Colton Hall Museum and Cultural Arts Commission. 

  • Letter of submittal requesting a performance in Few Memorial Hall
  • Performance fee
  • Sample program
  • Compact disc sampler
  • Number of performers
  • Contact person, phone number and address


(No late submittals will be accepted)

California's First Constitution - C-SPAN Interview with Dennis Copeland

Museums and Cultural Arts Special

C-SPAN Cities TourDennis Copeland gave a tour of Colton Hall, where California’s first constitutional convention was held in 1849, and talked about the state’s first constitution. He spoke about about what happened inside the hall and showed some of the items related to the convention

C-SPAN’s Local Content Vehicles (LCVs) made a stop in their “2015 LCV Cities Tour” in Monterey, California, from November 5-12, 2015 to feature the history and literary life of the community. Working with the Comcast Cable local affiliate, they visited literary and historic sites where local historians, authors, and civic leaders were interviewed. The history segments air on American History TV (AHTV) on C-SPAN3 and the literary events/non-fiction author segments air on Book TV on C-SPAN2. 

Watch the video


2016 Schedule of Free tours of Pacific Biological Laboratories

2016 Schedule of Free tours of Pacific Biological Laboratories

Last Tour for 2016: November 12.

We are pleased to offer free one-hour tours of the Pacific Biological Laboratories (Ed Ricketts’ Lab) at 800 Cannery Row.  Tours times: 9 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm, and 3:30 pm.

Lab Docents will tell the history of marine biologist Ed Ricketts, his friendship and collaboration with John Steinbeck, and of the "PBL Members" who bought the Lab in the mid-1950s and who were instrumental in the founding of the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Tours also feature a scale model of the Lab in the 1940s, created by Bill Johnk.  There will be opportunities for visitors to purchase a copy of a special photo-bookplated editions of John Steinbeck’s books plus other local authors.With the purchase of a book and a minimum $ 5.00 donation, visitors will receive a tax-deductible donation receipt.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED for these popular tours as spaces are limited. Contact the Colton Hall Museum at 831-646-5640. Reservations must be made by 4:00 pm the Friday before the tour. Contact the Museum (646-5640) in advance if you cannot attend. Please allow time to park and walk to the Lab. The City of Monterey is committed to include the disabled in all of its services, programs and activities.  If you require a hearing amplification device to attend an event, dial 711 to use CRS to talk to the City Museums Division Office at (831) 646-5648 to coordinate use of a device or for information.

Find out more information about Ed Ricketts's Lab here: