Centro Cultural de la Raza

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2004 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
|
Open:
12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Tuesday - Sunday)
Closed Monday
The Centro Cultural de la Raza is dedicated to educating through history, art, music, and community culture of Native Americans & Mexican-Chicano culture.
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Centro Cultural de la Raza
Mexican-Chicano Culture
What to Expect
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Exhibits & Attractions
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Know Before You Go
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Highlights

Exhibits / Attractions
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Exhibits / Attractions
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Tips

Learn about the Mexican-Chicano Culture

Details of the Wall Mural at the Centro Cultural De La RazaCloth Mural Being Painted at the Centro Cultural De La Raza

Located in Balboa Park, the Centro Cultural de la Raza is a non-profit organization with a goal to educate people by creating, preserving, and promoting the art and culture of the Native American, Mexican, Chicano, and Latino populations.

A member of the American Alliance of Museums, the center houses cultural exhibits based on indigenous knowledge systems and traditions. The exhibits, along with classes and presentations, center around music, dance, drama, and arts and crafts.

Centro Cultural de la Raza hosts the Ballet Folklorico en Aztian, a dance academy, as well as provides meeting space for local groups and organizations.

The 2,000-square-foot art gallery is the most popular part of the establishment, which is one of the first community-based cultural centers in the Southwest and has been in operation since the 1970s.

Today, it is a haven for families, young men and women, adults, the houseless community, and much more.

I personally see the museum as a cultural center of learning, a great place to bring your entire family for an afternoon of growth and enjoyment.

Details of the Mayan Calendar at the Centro Cultural De La Raza
Details of the Mayan Calendar at the Centro Cultural De La Raza

Have a New Experience

Have you always wanted to learn how to tango or salsa? The center is the place to do it.

Perhaps you want to take in a culturally relevant movie. Movie nights are frequent at Centro Cultural de la Raza.

Native American drum circles, free museum days, craft workshops, natural medicine seminars, DJ nights, and even workshops on how to practice self-care are common at the center as well.

Murals at the Centro Cultural De La Raza
Murals at the Centro Cultural De La Raza

A Museum for Us All

Centro Cultural de la Raza is an inclusive community that caters to and respects all people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. The board of directors expects all volunteers and visitors to do so with respect.

When you visit the Centro Cultural de la Raza, you will be visiting a true safe haven.

Local Tips
Chicano Cultural Center
The Centro is one of the first community-based Chicano cultural centers and one of the largest in the Southwest. It is identifiable by a number of murals painted near the building's main entrance.

Take a tour of The Prado, a popular restaurant in Balboa Park serving all flavors of San Diego dishes. The Prado has maintained its reputation of excellence for years, making it an iconic locale.

Go on a Food Tour

What to Expect When You Visit

Inside Mural at the Centro Cultural De La Raza
Inside Mural at the Centro Cultural De La Raza

You will know when you've reached the Centro Cultural de la Raza because of its unique presence in Balboa Park.

Created in an abandoned water tank, it features giant murals on the outside walls. The project, which was headed by Antonia Perez, has two main sections that were divided into smaller ones for a range of people to show off their work. You can spend hours taking in the minor details of these murals before you ever set foot inside.

When you do head inside, expect a range of information. You can explore on your own to check out various art pieces, or if you prefer, sign up for classes or workshops that teach you more about indigenous culture and its relationship to the surrounding community.

The projects and presentations are ever-changing, so I really think this is a museum that is worth visiting more than once to get the full effect.

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Exhibits and Attractions

Large Wall Mural at the Centro Cultural De La Raza
Large Wall Mural at the Centro Cultural De La Raza

The outside mural is the mainstay attraction at the Centro Cultural de la Raza. Inside, attractions and events change often, so it is important to keep an eye on the calendar to ensure you don't miss anything you're interested in.

Some current and past exhibits and events include Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) Celebration with art and altar exhibits, poetry, chocolate y pan dulce, and face painting; creative writing workshops; a Sopita de Letras art show; and La Mujer: Simple Complexity, a women’s art show.

Read on to explore the latest and greatest exhibits at the museum in 2024!

Outside of the Centro Cultural De La Raza in Balboa Park
Outside of the Centro Cultural De La Raza in Balboa Park

Community Centro Gardening Volunteer Days

Help alongside other volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays as you care for the Centro’s Mat Ichech Gardens and Corazon de la Tierra while learning more about the native and medicinal plants, proper watering techniques, composting, and more.

Tianguis de la Raza: Community Artisan Market

Held every third Sunday of the month except January and February, the Centro’s Community Artisan Market’s mission is to create a space that connects local crafters and community members to promote an autonomous economy and community building.

Here you can find arts, crafts, home goods, and more, as well as family-friendly activities including live music and children’s art workshops.

50-30-20

A more recent exhibit, 50-30-20 showcases an array of captivating artworks, photography, and original art from a Zapatista community and historical artifacts. It is only available to view for a limited time.

Connecting en la Cocina

An art exhibition opening March 2, 2024, Connecting en la Cocina celebrates the kitchen as more than a space for cooking, but as a powerful site of empowerment, resistance, and wisdom-keeping.

Features of the exhibition include art, music, and dance performances, as well as a fundraiser to help raise funds for the Centro Cultural de la Raza’s kitchen, a hub for community creation and organization.

Writing con la Raza Roundtable

Bring your book, dissertation, poetry, and other writing projects!

Created as a shared space for writers to jointly come together and work on their respective writing projects, Writing con la Raza Roundtable is a newer, biweekly get-together held every other Friday from 1PM-4PM at the Centro Cultural de la Raza.

Borderlands Visions: Border Arts Workshop

Coming in late April to July 2024, this art workshop is a series of four exhibits made possible through a $500,000 two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Educational Programs

Class at the Centro Cultural De La Raza
Class at the Centro Cultural De La Raza

Centro Cultural de la Raza hosts a wide variety of weekly recurring classes and special events such as gallery openings, movie screenings, theater, concerts, and lectures that protect and educate the community it serves. Currently, the most popular classes are Argentine Tango Milonga, Danza Mexicayotl, and Danza Azteca Coatlicue Cemilitzli.

Danza Azteca, Argentine Tango, and Danza Mexicayotl are traditional Aztec, Argentinian, and Chicano dance classes.

Other classes include West African Drum and Dance, Native American NAC Drum, Bomba Liberte, and Introduction to Nahuatl. Private classes are also available.

Yolotlalli Camp: A Summer of Learning and Art in San Diego

2023 marks the second year of the Yolotlalli Camp’s inception at the Centro Cultural de la Raza.

Made in partnership with The SD Foundation, SUHSD, and TheEdLadder, this summer camp for children ages 8-14 provides fun reading and math activities, as well as arts and cultural activities, every Monday through Friday for five weeks’ duration.

Be sure to register in advance as slots fill up quickly!

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Know Before You Go

Now that you know what to expect during your visit, here are a few more details that you might like to know before you arrive.

World Beat Center in Balboa Park
World Beat Center in Balboa Park

Opening Hours & Special Events

Centro Cultural de la Raza is closed on Mondays and currently open extended hours from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

The museum also holds after-hours workshops and other special events, so be sure to check its events calendar on its website for upcoming dates and activities.

Chris at Mary Janes Restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Chris at Mary Janes Restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Stay Near the Centro Cultural de la Raza

A short drive from the Centro Cultural de la Raza, San Diego’s very own Hard Rock Hotel San Diego is the perfect place to stay for music lovers.

Dine on nouveau Japanese cuisine from world-famous chef Nobu Matsuhisa, listen to a carefully curated collection of iconic records chosen by Hard Rock’s team of music experts, or buy some signature Hard Rock brand T-shirts and hoodies at the Rock Shop, Hard Rock’s exclusive clothing and accessory store.

Volunteering

The center is always looking for volunteers and has no paid employees.

Reception to the Centro Cultural De La Raza
Reception to the Centro Cultural De La Raza

Admission & Donations

The museum is a non-profit organization. Information about this can be found on the website. You can keep the center operating by donating online.

General admission to the gallery is a $5 suggested donation. Admission prices for dance classes vary.

Field Trips and Kid’s Policies

Contact the center directly for information about field trips or other school-related activities.

Children must be attended to at all times. Most classes for kids are family-friendly but call ahead if you wish to verify any age restrictions.

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