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The Exhibitions of the world-renowned Museum of Man are a major resource for the San Diego community. Permanent exhibits explore the Maya, ancient Egypt, the Kumeyaay Indians of San Diego County, Human Evolution, and the Human Life Cycle. These exhibits inform and entertain San Diegans and visitors alike, and are used extensively in the region's school curricula to study ancient history, local history, Indigenous cultures, and health sciences. These permanent exhibits are complemented by a series of changing exhibits on display throughout the Museum.

Special Exhibitions

October 25, 2014 - December 31, 2016

See beasts familiar and strange, real and imagined, kind-hearted and troublesome, from across the span of human history and culture! You'll learn where they come from, what they look like, how they behave, and how to defeat them!

We've reached into our vast collections to bring out unusual monster artifacts you can see and touch, and we've borrowed a few from other museums, as well, just to make sure the exhibit is chock-full of cool stuff. This brand-new, one-of-a-kind exhibit is loaded with interactive fun for the whole family:

  • Make a monster of your own.
  • Put on a play with strange creatures.
  • Find out how to defend yourself from monsters' wily ways.
  • Learn the truth about monster legends.
  • Explore monster habitats, including caves, the sea, under the bed, and elsewhere!

Which real creature's skull was thought to belong to an imaginary monster? Whose giant tentacle was mistaken for something far more mythical? What were people smelling when they thought they were smelling Bigfoot? Find out!

August 24, 2013 - August 28, 2016

Modern civilization is beer civilization! Agriculture, cities, writing, and religion all have ties to ancient craft brewing. Ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Chinese, and others each perfected the brewing arts in interesting, and even strange, ways. Beer-loving headhunters from the Amazon, for example, did the amazing trick of chewing poisonous cassava root so it could become a drinkable beer. Learn fascinating stories and see phenomenal artifacts that reveal the links between beer and culture, such as the solid gold beer cup of an Inca king.

Instruments of Torture
July 1, 2012 - December 31, 2015

Now Open. Limited Engagement.

Instruments of Torture is a gripping exhibition featuring implements cruelly engineered to inflict unbelievable pain and suffering. But these artifacts also have a deeper significance in helping us understand who we are as human beings. By exploring why torture occurs, even in today’s world, this exhibition compels us to ask “Are people the real instruments of torture?” In addition to the rare artifacts on tour from Italy’s Museo della Tortura, our partnerships with the International Legal Studies Program at California Western School of Law, the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, and Survivors of Torture, International help address the contemporary issues of torture.

Core Exhibitions

Adventure Kids in Egypt

A children's exhibit for the whole family! In Adventure Kids in Egypt, you'll experience what it's like to be a modern archaeologist discovering the remnants of Ancient Egypt, then see our real mummies and authentic Ancient Egyptian artifacts. There's no extra charge: it's included with the cost of general admission! To start your adventure, make your way upstairs, through the Ancient Egypt doors, across the walkway over the street, and into the special area that's just for kids!

Ancient Egypt: Real Mummies and Artifacts of the Dead

Now Open – See the Only Real Mummies and Shrunken Heads in San Diego

This amazing exhibit is available for no extra charge as part of general admission.

The culture of ancient Egypt holds a universal appeal and fascination for adults and children alike. The Museum of Man is fortunate to have one of the most important ancient Egyptian collections in the United States.

Footsteps Through Time

Now Open

The Museum's West Wing houses our fabulous anthropology exhibit, Footsteps Through Time: Four Million Years of Human Evolution. The permanent exhibit—covering 7,000 square feet and featuring five galleries and more than a hundred touchable replicas of early humans

Kumeyaay: Native Californians

This ongoing exhibit is now open to the public.

The Kumeyaay, or Diegueño (as they were later called by the Spanish), are the Native American people of present-day Southern California (San Diego and western Imperial Counties) and Northern Baja. For many generations before the arrival of the Spanish, they occupied the deserts, mountains, and coasts, developing sophisticated means of adapting to the diverse environments.

Maya: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth

Exhibit Now Open Daily

The ancient Maya left behind evidence of a sophisticated and complex culture. Using cycles of the moon, sun, and planets, they were able to develop accurate calendar systems. More than a thousand years ago, they used unique hieroglyphic writing to carve important dates, names of their rulers, and ceremonial events on stone monuments in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador.

Race: Are We So Different?

Now Open

Is race the color of your skin? Is it the texture of your hair? The shape of your eyes? Is it in your genes? 

Is race even real?

Most of what we think about race is based on myth, folklore, or assumptions unsupported by genetics or biology. Race: Are We So Different? explains in clear, helpful language the origins of race and racism, and helps us understand how to deal with them in productive, enlightening ways. 

No one is free of misunderstandings about race, but it doesn't have to be that way. Come join us for an eye-opening look at human nature and biology. You'll leave transformed.