The exhibits in the museum present the entire history of the human race, from our early days and pre-human ancestors to our most recent exploits. As you take in each exhibit, you are learning a little more about your own history and all the events that had to occur to shape our modern society as we know it.
Climb the recently restored eight-story tower that is now open to visitors. From the observation deck, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of San Diego from the mountains in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, while the rest of the exhibit highlights the history of Balboa Park and San Diego’s diverse communities.
Ancient Egypt perfect for Students
The tour takes students on a journey back in time to the ancient city of El Amarna in Egypt. Students will collaboratively discuss social class, explore artifacts and objects from this ancient city, and attend a celebration for Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti’s Egyptian rule.
The Ancient Egypt exhibit provides a window into the lives and culture of ancient Egyptians, as well as how their culture changed over time. By examining artifacts, visitors can better understand the differences and similarities to their own lives.
This exhibit also includes the Adventure Kids in Egypt section. Here, kids can imagine themselves as archaeologists by playing with the hands-on displays and interactive computer games.
Based on a decade-long community art project, this special installation showcases what intimate details people will share when they are anonymous. Each postcard in the exhibit has been sent in by an unknown mailer who needed to share their secret with the world without exposing their identity. The exhibit is an experiment where you can read the results for yourself, or even send in your own postcard!
Living with Animals
If you’ve ever wondered how the human relationship with animals developed over time, the Living with Animals exhibit is the perfect way to find out. Learn how early races of humans went from seeing animals as food or threats to domesticated partners and pets.
The Facing Artifacts exhibit contains twelve plaster casts of human faces. Half of the casts come from the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, making them over a century old. The other half come from much more recent volunteer visitors to the museum.
By sourcing the face casts from the past and present, the exhibit gives visitors an insider look into how museum artifacts are made, and how history can be closer than it seems!
Graffiti Art Murals
Graffiti is a modern-day art and form of expression that often goes overlooked and underappreciated. Located in the Maya and Egyptian galleries, the Graffiti Art Murals exhibit invites visitors to treat the medium of graffiti art with the same weight they would give to hand-painted murals from ancient civilizations.
The Monsters! exhibit explores mythical creatures from legends in many different cultures throughout human history. Learn about everything from the beautiful unicorn to the ferocious manticore and all sorts of creatures in between.
The exhibit includes many interactive opportunities for kids, such as reading some of the myths and stories that inspired these beasts, exploring monsters’ habitats, and creating their own monsters.
Cannibals: Myth & Reality
Cannibalism is often treated as a taboo subject. In Cannibals: Myth and Reality, the curtain hiding this often-unspeakable practice is lifted, dispelling many popular myths and detailing its most well-known occurrences. Get to know who the real cannibals were in human history: often not monstrous individuals, but instead warriors, sailors, kings and queens, colonists, and accident survivors.
Though this exhibit does not contain any inappropriate or violent imagery, it is recommended for older children and adults due to the nature of the topic.
Race: Are We So Different?
This exhibit combines both historical and modern takes on the subject of race, whether or not race truly exists, and how we define our race. It also examines the roots of racism and how it can influence our perceptions of each other.
Beer has been enjoyed throughout history, and it often has a surprisingly strong link to the culture of different areas and time periods. In Beerology, visitors can discover ancient practices for brewing and sharing beer, as well as its connections to writing, agriculture, and religion.
Kumeyaay: Native Californians
The San Diego Museum of Us, Balboa Park, and the city of San Diego itself all reside on the ancestral homeland and territory of the indigenous Kumeyaay people – the first people in California. This exhibit pays tribute to the original residents of the area and examines their lives both before and after the mid-1700s arrival of Spanish settlers.
In Kumeyaay: Native Californians, you can learn about the Kumeyaay people, their culture, and their lifestyles, as well as the ways their lives changed as the city of San Diego developed. Traditional medicine, ceremonies, games, arts like cooking and pottery, clothing worn by the Kumeyaay people, and even a cosmology dome that explores the stars.
Maya: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth
This exhibit features artifacts from ancient Mayan culture as well as replicas of Mayan monuments cast from the originals at a site in Guatemala. These impressive stelae can be found in the Rotunda Gallery.