The museum is home to exhibitions and collections of various species of sea fauna (starfish, seahorses, turtles, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, rays, sharks, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, eels, cuttlefish etc.) both stuffed and in skeletal form. The museum's holdings also include a great variety of sea related objects, including model ships, sea animal skeletons, tools, weapons, etc.
An aquarium located in the basement of the museum showcases a wide array of flora and fauna. Four thousand species of fish and over 200 families of invertebrates can be seen. The aquarium also features a presentation of Mediterranean and tropical marine ecosystems.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau was its director for many years, beginning in 1957.
The Oceanographic Museum was inaugurated in 1910 by Monaco's modernist reformer, Prince Albert I. This monumental architectural work of art has an impressive façade above the sea, towering over the sheer cliff face to a height of 279 feet (85.04 m). It took 11 years to build, using 100,000 tons of stone from La Turbie.