San Diego Museum of Us

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1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
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Open:
Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
When you visit the San Diego Museum of Us, you’ll find a collection of archeological & anthropological artifacts plus exhibits the whole family will enjoy!
San Diego Museum of Us
Education & Entertainment
What You’ll See
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At the San Diego Museum of Us, Education Meets Entertainment

The San Diego Museum of Us is located in the historic California Quadrangle and California Tower buildings in Balboa Park in San Diego. It is primarily an anthropological museum, but thanks to its century-old roots and unique construction, it has become an intersection of anthropology and architecture.

The museum was previously known as the San Diego Museum of Man. In August of 2020, they adopted their new name in an effort to showcase their commitment to inclusivity. The name is in line with the museum’s mission of providing educational services to everyone, as well as their values of exploring the human experience to inspire human connection.

The renaming also includes the museum’s new tagline, “All of us.” It represents a split from colonialist narratives and the erasure of Indigenous communities, and is in line with the museum’s efforts to be a more diverse, welcoming space.

Despite the recent changes, the San Diego Museum of Us has an extensive history that dates back well over a century. It was originally founded in 1915 when its creation was inspired by the Panama-California Exposition. From its earliest days, the museum has celebrated anthropology and the study of human history.

The museum has both permanent and special exhibits that highlight some of the more fascinating aspects of civilization from ancient times to today. From relics from far away as well as some from local communities, the curated collection of this Balboa Park museum is fascinating and enlightening.

Like many of the museums and other attractions around Balboa Park such as the San Diego History Center and The New Children's Museum, the San Diego Museum of Us is offered with the Go San Diego Pass. Purchasing the pass before your trip is an easy and convenient way to save, especially if you take advantage of our exclusive additional discount if you purchase it via our website.

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What You’ll See During Your Visit

At the San Diego Museum of Us, you’ll be amazed before you even enter the building. The incredibly ornate architectural details and sheer height of the eight-story tower makes the exterior of the museum a San Diego landmark in its own right. Of course, the museum is equally, if not more impressive, inside as it is outside.

The exhibits inside the museum explain culturally significant events throughout human history in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand and take interest in. There are many hands-on experiences and activities to keep visitors of all ages engaged with what they’re learning. Within is a unique merging of history, with a more modern presentation, to deliver an experience you can’t find anywhere else.

On top of important historical events, the San Diego Museum of Us also includes rotating exhibits that deal with important current events. You can see how the past and present interact and how our modern experiences shape the future of the human race.

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What activities does the Go Pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go San Diego Pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Snorkel Rentals, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures and more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

Exhibits and Attractions from the Past and Present

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.

California Tower

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.

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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.

Ancient Egypt

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.

Postsecret

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.

Facing Artifacts

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.

Monsters!

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.

Beerology

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.

Kids’ Educational Tours and Activities

The San Diego Museum of Us contains many family-friendly activities for young children. There are guided gallery tours for K-12 kid groups with chaperones, as well as self-guided tours with museum staff answering questions.

The museum also offers an art workshop with a one-hour hands-on project. The experience includes a guided tour of the Ancient Egypt exhibit.

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Tips to Know Before Your Visit

Ensure your visit is free of stress with these helpful, informative tips.

Parking

The closest places to park are along Sixth Avenue or Balboa Drive. Additional lot parking is available throughout Balboa Park. Parking is free in Balboa Park.

You can also take the Balboa Park tram from the lots at Inspiration Point.

Gift Shop

The museum's gift shop sells gifts and souvenirs themed around museum exhibits. Pick up commemorative Monsters! themed toys or Beerology decorations.

Rotating Exhibits

The exhibits can change periodically, as special displays move on and others arrive, so check the museum website before your visit for the latest information.

Additional Fees

While purchasing a Go San Diego Pass before you arrive is the best way to get the cheapest admission prices to the museum, several of the special exhibits may have an additional fee to

the price of general admission. Upon arrival, ask one of the staff members or check the museum’s official website in advance for more details.

Event Hosting

Space in the museum is available to rent for special events. You can rent the California Building, the St. Francis Chapel, the Grand Rotunda, or the auditorium. For scheduling information, check the official website.

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