Exhibitions

Enjoy the birds and wildlife, plants, geology, and cultural richness that make the California Central Coast unique in the world. The best place to enjoy the outside, inside.

Permanent Exhibitions

SPECIAl Exhibitions

Annual Exhibitions

Online EXHIBITIONS


Birds of Monterey County

Hawk in Museum Collection

Hawk in Museum Collection

Monterey County is one of the top five places in North America for bird watching due to its diverse number of resident and migratory birds. The Museum's Birds of Monterey County exhibition features 291 bird species and 409 life mounted birds. Highlights include a California condor, 117 Rollo Beck life-mounted birds. Also extinct species such as a Passenger Pigeon is on display, one of only about 30 on public display west of the Mississippi. 

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Monarch Gallery

Explore the miraculous and unique annual cycle of western monarch butterflies, which includes a winter migration to California’s Central Coast. Highlights of this exhibition include real specimens, amazing videos, vintage artifacts, and multiple hands-on opportunities--all wrapped in the most up-to-date scientific knowledge and artistic presentation. Visit our monarch webpage to learn how to see the monarchs during winter.

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Biodiversity Gallery

The now extinct Xerces butterfly, cousin to the local endangered Smith Blue butterfly.

The now extinct Xerces butterfly, cousin to the local endangered Smith Blue butterfly.

Our Mediterranean weather, ocean currents, and geological formations result in a great abundance and variety of local animals and plants. The Museum has been showcasing this biodiversity for over 130 years.

Discover the beauty of nature seen up close in authentic dioramas and hands-on interactives. Topics include predators and prey, animal coloration, and the reptiles, amphibians, and mammals native to Monterey County.

Our taxidermy collection was largely collected for scientific study in the late 1800s to early 1900s when lack of good binoculars and viewing scopes made taxidermy specimens an essential element of science. Now they serve as a record of the region's biodiversity.

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Geology

Artist Don Wobber and the jade boulder, Leucothea

Artist Don Wobber and the jade boulder, Leucothea

Entering the Museum's Native Plant Garden you are greeted by a 2400 lb. Jade boulder hoisted from the bottom of the ocean in Big Sur by artist Don Wobber. The Museum's Main Gallery also contains a display on jade, Monterey County geology, paleontology, and mineralogy, with an enclosed viewing window devoted to fluorescent minerals. The Museum's Geology Page provides additional information on the geology of the Central Coast region.

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Native Plant Garden

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The Museum's Native Plant Garden features three spaces that reflect the area’s important local ecosystems – coastal scrub, chaparral and oak woodland – as well as a butterfly garden and an ethno-botanical area featuring plants that local California Indians used for food and utility. Use our Plant List to find drought resistant native plants for your garden. Kids enjoy digging in the garden fossil pit and bringing home one of its fossils.

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Native Central Coast Baskets

The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History's “Asking the Baskets” exhibit showcases rare and historic California Indian baskets from the Central Coast.

Along with the historic baskets, the exhibit displays native plants collected and processed by contemporary Ohlone basket weaver Linda Yamane. It also shows a short video of her work, collecting and processing basketry plants for weaving a ceremonial basket. The exhibit includes large-scale models of coiling and twining techniques, and a hands-on station for visitors to weave strands in and out of wooden “basket” spokes.

See 3-D renderings of three baskets here.

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Pacific Grove's Chinese Fishing Village

This exhibition tells the story of the residents of the Point Alones Chinese Fishing Village. The first Chinese to immigrate to America as families, these residents were forced out of their homes in 1906. Having started one of California's largest fishery, the villagers  significantly contributed to California's natural history and economic development. Historic photographs from the Museum's Collection tell their story. Learn more about Pacific Grove's Chinese Fishing Village.

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Collectors: Teaching throughout time

This new exhibit spotlights a variety of amazing collections, from shells to weapons and beyond, brought from the Museum's fascinating basement treasures. See arrowheads, historic photographs, Ed Ricketts collection items, and much more. This exhibit will rotate periodically, trading exhibit material with rarely seen material from the Museum's vast collection.

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Magnificent Migrations: A Journey Through Central California

Cleo Vilett,  Egret at Lovers Point , oil on muslin on board, 16” x 20.”

Cleo Vilett, Egret at Lovers Point, oil on muslin on board, 16” x 20.”

The California Art Club and Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History are proud to present “Magnificent Migrations: A Journey Through Central California”, on view from January 18 – April 14, 2019. This exhibition guides viewers through a painted journey of central California, highlighting the diverse ecosystems of this region, from Point Lobos and Pacific Grove to the High Sierras and between. Come join us for the opening reception on Friday, February 1, 2019, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., and meet some of the talented artists!

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Environmental Art

Artist Don Wobber and the jade boulder, Leucothea

Artist Don Wobber and the jade boulder, Leucothea

Artist Don Wobber found this jade boulder on the bottom of the ocean off of jade cove in Big Sur. He hoisted the 2400 lb boulder up to the surface using buoys and then floated it along the coast bringing it to shore at a beach. Please note that now Big Sur's Jade Cove is now located in the Monterey Bay National Sanctuary.

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The Museum's Spirit Nest was brought into the garden using a crane.

The Museum's Spirit Nest was brought into the garden using a crane.

Big Sur artist Jayson Fann's Spirit Nest created the Museum's Spirit Nest in 2009. It is a cherished feature of the Museum's Native Plant Garden.

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School Field Trips tend to start and end with Sandy the whale.

School Field Trips tend to start and end with Sandy the whale.

Artist Larry Foster created the beloved Sandy the Gray Whale who welcomes us all to the Museum. Sandy is an actual life-sized model of a female Gray whale.

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Fun to watch on a windy day

Fun to watch on a windy day

This kinetic wind sculpture located in the Museum's Native Plant Garden was created by artist Lyman Whitaker.

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The Wildflower Show

Presented by the Museum and the Monterey Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, the Wildflower Show’s wide representation of wildflower species and varieties make it the largest wildflower show in the Northern and Western Hemispheres. During one weekend in April, immerse yourself in a sea of more than 600 species and varieties of Central Coast wildflowers and learn about the diverse native plant habitats of Monterey County during this long weekend of botanical fun.

Look for details here.

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Monarch Gallery

The Monarchs Come Home special exhibition grew so popular we created a permanent Monarch Gallery to tell the miraculous story of the monarchs migration to the California Central Coast.

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