The Exhibit

Is race the color of your skin? Is it the texture of your hair? The shape of your eyes? Is it in your genes? IMG_3849

Is race even real?

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.

Most of what we think about race is based on myth, folklore, or assumptions unsupported by genetics or biology. 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.

The Museum of Man is a place where dialogue, learning, and exchange forge understanding and personal connections. That’s why — after an initial temporary exhibition — we later permanently installed this award-winning exhibit created by the American Anthropological Society and the Science Museum of Minnesota.

It’s now a platform to engage schools and teachers, the general public, and other groups, in feeling, thinking, acting, and reflecting on race and identity, and to raise awareness, build community, and positively impact the ways in which we treat each other.



How do others see you? Who controls representation?


kid-bustsIn this special addition to our Race exhibit, three busts are on display. They were part of thirty originally created for an exhibit on race that appeared at this museum when it first opened in 1915.

All we know today about the people who served as models are their names, ages, and assigned races. We wish we knew them better. They did not get a chance to tell their stories.

A woven section of the exhibit, designed by Shinpei Takeda.

A woven section of the exhibit, designed by Shinpei Takeda.

One hundred years later, we had new portraits made for a new exhibit, and this time around, the models speak for themselves. We took six of the 1915 busts to three San Diego neighborhoods in order to start a conversation about how race and labels relate to who we are today.

We asked our neighbors to think about how they wanted to represent themselves. These self-portraits are the result.

Inter+FACE is a partnership between the AjA Project and the San Diego Museum of Man that uses participatory photography and community dialogue to explore how race, representation, and identity have been experienced in both past and present San Diego.

The AjA Project harnesses the power of photography to change lives and transform communities. They believe that individuals and communities become stronger and more resilient when people have the tools to communicate their perspectives, articulate their goals, and aspire to great things.

Gallery and Dialogue Workshops

To book a workshop, call (619) 239-2001, ext. 67, or email

K-12 School Workshop

During this 90-minute program, students in grades 5-12 will tour the award-winning exhibition Race: Are We So Different? and engage in a small-group dialogue about the ways in which race and ethnicity impact their lives and how they can improve their communication and understanding of differences at school and beyond. The tour aims to teach about the history of race in America, the unfounded scientific basis of race as a tool for division and discrimination, and the ways in which all of our lives are impacted, in one way or another, by race and ethnicity. Each program is led by educators trained in facilitation and sensitive to the needs and concerns of individual groups.

College, Adult, Nonprofit, and Corporate Group Workshop

Bring your adult group to the Museum for a two-hour program on equity and inclusion. Participants will experience the Race: Are We So Different? exhibition and engage in a dialogue facilitated by trained educators. Through this dynamic program, participants will learn about the science and history of race in America, talk openly about identity and ethnicity and the ways it impacts our lives personally and professionally, build trust among group members, and develop tools to continue these important conversations back at your school, place of business, or organization.

Getting the Most Out of Your Workshop


Before Your Visit. Your workshop with Race: Are We So Different? features a gallery experience and a dialogue facilitated by a trained educator. The exhibit connects to Common Core standards of reading, speaking and listening, and history/social studies, as well as National Science Standards.

To prepare your students, explore the resources on the exhibit’s main site, maintained by the American Anthropological Association. There is a wealth of lesson plans on science and human variation, history, and identity and the lived experience of race.

For specific information on museum policies and on ways to ensure that you have a successful trip to the Museum of Man, please read the Group Guidelines.

After Your Visit. Your gallery experience in Race: Are We So Different? is only the beginning of the transformative conversations about race that your group needs to have. Research shows that changes in behavior and cultural and identity awareness only shift if these issues are addressed over time. We invite you to use the following resources and suggestions to further these conversations with your group back at your site.

  • Create regular opportunities for discussion of race, ethnicity and identity in your curriculum.Race-OpeningPostcard-v3-Front
  • Make your classroom a safe space for conversations through posted agreements and standards of communication.
  • Utilize resources in your school, district, or community that treat race and ethnicity as an immediate and real-world issue, including professional development opportunities, community groups, or media.
  • Create opportunities for discussions about race that are not limited to talking: research shows the most effective learning experiences occur with a balance of thinking, acting, feeling, and reflecting. Invite students to create works of art, to respond to film and television programs, to visit organizations in your community to have conversations about race!

Resources About Dialogue and Inclusion