This exhibit is now closed.

Our Journeys Through Life

Baptism and birth, marriage and graduation, a first job and retirement: these are just a few of the important events which mark life in the United States.

But among the world’s cultures which have found homes in San Diego County there is a rich profusion of other celebrations, honors, and rituals, from a Somali ceremony performed seven days after a woman weds, to the scarring of a young Sudanese man’s forehead to show he has reached adulthood.

Join us for a heartwarming look at just a few of our community’s powerful life events, featuring items from Americans, Filipinos, Chinese, Samoans, Mexicans, Zimbabweans, Vietnamese, and many other nations, cultures, and religions.

Rites of Passage
Rites of Passage
Rites of Passage
Rites of Passage

See more photos from the exhibit. The exhibit features many compelling pieces:

pregnancy apron • Dayak baby carrier • Chinese infant hats • images of a child’s first Shinto shrine visit • christening outfits • Hupa cradle board • European corn husk dolls • Oaxacan pregnancy statue • Ewe carved figure • Zimbabwean fertility doll • Jewish Kiddush cup • image of an African-American naming ceremony • Blackfoot war shirt • American boot camp yearbook • American military medals, uniforms, and discharge papers • Buddhist monk robes, alms bowl, and fan • Jewish tallit and kippah • Makonde circumcision stool • image of a Lao fisherman • Chamorro bowline with knot • Zulu ear jewelry • Kumeyaay practice rabbit-hunting stick • Zulu spear • Seri boy’s crown • Mexican corn maiden dress, skirt, ankle bracelets, crown, and hawk fan • Filipino debut gown • Miao fertility festival image • Miao festival crown • American prom dress • American high school cap and gown • American high school letterman’s jacket • American high school yearbook, ring, and diploma • Lao bride and groom wedding outfits • Ndebele married woman’s apron case • Somali wedding container • Zulu wedding basket • African-American wedding broom • Catholic wedding coins • Jewish marriage contract • Filipino wedding gown • American double wedding ring quilt • Somali shaash saar ceremony photograph • Somali perfume tray • Malay bride and groom photograph • Turkoman married woman’s pendant braid ornament • Chinese wedding headdress • Chamorro shell necklace • photograph of Maasai warriors • professional chef’s coat • Methodist elder’s robe and cross • doctor’s stethoscope • journeyman’s certificate • Samoan tattoo photograph • Somali shawl • refugee immigration bag and name tag • Dogon ancestral stool • Lao dance outfits • Samoan tattoo instruments • Filipino dance paintings • Kayan Lahwi photograph • Filipino dance poles • Buddhist cremation photograph • Chinese burial garment • Sulawesi Island burial door • memorial hair wreath • Vietnamese funerary figures • Mexican Día de los Muertos skull and skeleton • Christian funeral cross

The Story Behind the Exhibit

In early 2010, focus groups, made up of residents and artists from 10 southeastern San Diego neighborhoods, were held to discuss how to promote and support the arts. Participants expressed interest in a partnership with the cultural institutions in Balboa Park. The feedback was enthusiastic and the Center for Community & Cultural Arts Learning Partnership was born.

The partnership includes the San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego Museum of Art, and Mingei International Museum, as well as southeastern San Diego residents. It honors the diverse cultures and traditions of southeastern San Diego by building a two-way bridge between Balboa Park cultural institutions and the community.

Rites of Passage, the first exhibition developed through the partnership, opened August 2012 at the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. The special exhibition was created to share stories, artifacts, and photos of major life events as practiced around the world. Objects loaned from the community and Balboa Park museums are integrated into the exhibit, which affirms the importance of connecting our shared experiences and inspires us to build a stronger community. We welcome you to share these heart-warming mementos of what it means to be human.

Rites of Passage