The Old Convento wing of the Carmel Mission houses the museum dedicated to the Founder of the California Mission Chain, Saint Fray Junipero Serra.
Not only did Father Serra make his residence at this mission, he used it as the administrative headquarters of the Mission Chain. The earliest portions of the Old Convent (Convent for Male Religious), date to the third quarter of the eighteenth century and were constructed over a long period of years culminating around 1820. The earliest portions of the building are the rooms occupied by Father Serra’s Cell and the room now displayed and represented as the Grand Sala or living room. Successive additions to the structure gave it its present long shape that forms the North eastside of the large quadrangle or compound.
Found inside this structure are the Padre’s kitchen, living room, guest dining room and refectory. The long “chapel-like” room that now houses the Serra Sarcophagus was the site of the Grand Sala or reception room. The rooms have been for the most part restored to their original purposes for restoration.
The room that houses California’s First Library (founded by Serra in 1770) was originally one of the Padre’s cells or bedrooms but houses the library artifacts as the site of the original library has not been restored – this site is in front of the left front bell tower of the church as presently under archeological excavation.
At the east end of the building where the Visitor’s Reception Room and Mission Store now stand was the common kitchen for preparing the midday meals for the native workers at the mission establishment. Throughout the building, original and period artifacts from the Carmel Mission are displayed for the public.