Open now through 2018!

In this thoughtful (and gore-free) one-of-a-kind exhibit, you’ll discover that cannibals aren’t who you think they are. They’re warriors from many cultures, European kings and queens, American and European sailors, American colonists, accident survivors, the sick, and more.

The San Diego Union-Tribune gave Cannibals high praise:

“Get past the ick factor. Stifle the barbecue jokes. Cannibals: Myth & Reality is a poignant and beautiful experience, the type that you hope to get at a museum. It deftly guides you from one emotional place to another, revealing connections across time and cultures, until you reach a point of deeper understanding. Through history, art, films, interactive displays and games, visitors confront what seems, at first, to be an unthinkable choice. By the end, you might realize that it’s far more nuanced and complicated.”

Inside the Exhibit

“One of the things we really wanted to do with this exhibit is to ask visitors to step into the shoes of people who were faced with real, difficult decisions and to make people think. Given the same circumstances, would they make the same choices? Can I empathize with that person? Do I understand what happened?”

—Director of Exhibit Development Dr. Emily Anderson in an interview with KPBS TV.

  • Hear the emotional first-hand account of the Uruguayan rugby players who, trapped high in the Andes Mountains, resorted to cannibalism to survive.
  • Learn why European explorers falsely used the label of “cannibal” to enslave and control people around the world.
  • Step into the apothecary shop to find out how the human body has been used as medicine.
  • Now online! Play the “Donner Trail” web game based on the Donner Party. Will you live or die?
  • While stranded at sea, decide who among you will be eaten so that the others may live. Maybe you’ll be the one who draws the short straw!
  • Decide if you already do things that make you a cannibal, too.

Special charges apply for this unique exhibit. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Student groups will find the group self-guide useful in preparing for, experiencing, and learning from the exhibit.

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Thank you to our sponsors:

The Loughridge Family, City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program, and Balboa Park Online Collaborative.

Photos below by Stacy Keck.