heritage museum

The mission of the JACL Heritage Museum is to collect, maintain and preserve the Japanese cultural legacy of the Monterey Peninsula.


At the core of this mission is the JACL Heritage Museum which houses artifacts, images and documents that collectively define the local cultural history of the Issei, Nisei and following generations. The museum and archives are community resources to increase understanding of the impact of the wartime experience on the post-1945 lives of the Issei and Japanese Americans of the Monterey Peninsula in terms of jobs, housing, education and social adaptation.

JACL Heritage Museum Board Member

Carolyn McCombs
Tim Thomas
Ellie Hattori
Rick McCombs
Larry Oda
Jeanne Nakagawa
Pam Yoshida
Jeff Uchida


Founded in 2008, the JACL Heritage Museum is committed to developing a local resource center that houses artifacts and documents that explain the Issei and Nisei contributions in many fields:  fishing our oceans for abalone and sardines; farming the rich land;  working in canneries on Cannery Row; operating retail fish businesses on old Fisherman’s Wharf; mixing business and social life in old nihonmachi, and competing in sports. A current, unfolding project will present historical photographs, artifacts, and architectural models that document life in the internment camps during WWII. 

Programs and Projects

JACL Heritage Museum also sponsors programs and projects that are consistent with our mission of furthering cultural understanding. In 2012, the program, Honor the Nisei, recognized the many contributions by this second generation of Japanese Americans in athletic, occupational and professional walks of life. By honoring the Nisei, future generations will have role models to follow; by highlighting the Nisei achievements, bonds with the larger peninsula community can be forged. In 2015, The Heritage Museum presented a program, Gaman: Coping with Adversity, that brought together three distinguished authors and a widely acclaimed playwright. Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (Farewell to Manzanar), Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye), Paul M. Tag (How Much Do You Love Me?), and Luis Valdez, noted playwright and founder of Teatro Campesino, discussed their works and the relevance of cultural values and historical lessons for contemporary society.

Location and Hours

The museum is located at the JACL Hall at 424 Adams Street, Monterey. The Monterey JACL Heritage Museum is open to the public for special events and when requested. If you are a teacher and would like to arrange a visit for you class, or of you would just like tour, please call 831-521-3304 or email Tim Thomas at: timsardine@yahoo.com. 

Volunteer Docents

Are you a student or a community member interested in our local history? The JACL Heritage Museum is seeking volunteer docents who can assist visitors by explaining our history, culture and museum exhibits and facilitate the use of archival materials. We hope to work with and encourage educational institutions to grant credit for fulfilling community service and academic requirements. If you are interested, please call 831-521-3304 or email Tim Thomas at: timsardine@yahoo.com.

Mural and Artist

At the entrance of the JACL Heritage Museum is the beautiful Koinoburi (carp-shaped windsocks traditionally flown in Japan to celebrate Children’s Day) mural. The mural is created by Pacific Grove native, Heather Seavey. Heather has lived and studied art in Paris and other parts of Europe and has created murals all over the world. She currently lives in Mexico City.