Empowering Women Spotlight: Meet Ephigenia Mukantabana

Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities features compelling stories of women around the globe who are working to improve their lives and the lives of their community members by creating and selling folk art as members of grassroots cooperatives. One of those inspiring women is Ephigenia Mukantabana.

Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives That Transform Communities


On Exhibit: January 25, 2014 through August 17, 2014

Women are a powerful force in our global society. They are often the lynchpin in their communities, able to create major change that lifts up themselves and their neighbors. In particular, women artisans have worked together in cooperatives creating folk art that provides income for their families, preserves their cultural heritage, heals the wounds of war and domestic abuse, improves education, and protects their environments.

This striking exhibit, Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities, tells the stories of these women. Created by the Museum of International Folk Art, the exhibit highlights ten grassroots cooperatives from ten different countries: Bolivia, India, Kenya, Lao PDR, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, Swaziland, and South Africa. Each cooperative has a different style of art, a different story, and a different but unforgettable impact on the lives of the women involved in it.

To be invited to the opening party to be held January 24, become a memberThe members-only soiree will feature food, drink, music, and some local women artisans.





              The Loughridge Family     Judy Wenker

Rose Tyson Seminar in the Forensic Sciences, September 28, 2013

We are pleased to announce the San Diego Museum of Man’s upcoming Rose Tyson 20th Seminar in the Forensic Sciences! The seminar promises to be exciting and educational as it features guest lecturers who specialize in various fields of forensics, including forensic anthropology, odontology, and entomology.

The Rose Tyson 20th Seminar in the Forensic Sciences will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2013, at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The Museum of Man is hosting this day-long seminar for the anthropology, medical, and legal communities, students, and anyone interested in the forensic sciences. Please see the attached announcement and call for papers. We welcome abstract submissions from students and faculty alike!

Among the Lovely Bones

If you’ve seen Quentin Tarantino's latest movie, Django Unchained, you've seen a Bone Clone replica. It’s an amazing lifelike replica of a real body part. Leonardo DiCaprio's character pontificates at the supper table about the old slave who raised him, while holding the slave's skull — or rather, a bone clone.

Bone Clones is a Los Angeles-based company that produces lifelike replicas of animal and human skeletons, including some from our collection. They make molds and then from the molds make replicas to be used in medical, forensic, and science-related fields of study. We love that our collection actively advances science and education and many of the bones in our Footsteps Through Time exhibit are casts of our originals created by Bone Clones.

The replicas shown here, side by side with the original bones, are from our Hrdlička (her-lish-ka) Collection. This thousand-piece collection was gathered for the 1915 Panama California Exposition from previously looted gravesites in Peru. Our collection of bones is the second largest in the country, surpassed only by that of the Smithsonian. It represents the Museum's very first accessioned items: its catalog numbers begin at 01!

I asked our curator, Tori Randall, if she would show me the "most awesome" things in her lab. Among them was a set of 70 trephined skulls which were scraped, drilled, or cut for medical or spiritual purposes in Peru. I was under the impression this method of medical treatment was no longer practiced; however, Tori said that the Kisii tribe of Africa still does it, and with a 90% success rate. She also said that when she shows this collection to visiting students she gets fainters. She's managed to catch a few of them on the way down.

After appreciating the trephined skulls (without any fainting on my part), we took a look at regular bone specimens from the Boring Collection. Dr. Boring acquired bones from corpses, with permission, and boiled them in a mixture of bleach and water to remove the non-bone bits. I experienced the results of his methods when Tori rolled open a drawer of foot bones. A smell wafted up like a slap in the face - the bleachy, musty odor is unforgettable. 

I finished by asking Tori what her favorite part of her job is. She said she enjoys seeing environmental effects on the bones she works with. Lifestyle, behavior, location, and the point in history at which an individual lived all have visible effects.

Q&A with Curator Tori Randall

What's your doctorate in and where did you get it?

Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, England.

What has been your focus?

I used skeletal collections at the San Diego Museum of Man to reconstruct prehistoric life in southern California.

How does it compare with your undergraduate work?

My undergraduate experience was generalized, and I focused on the four disciplines of anthropology: linguistics, cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological anthropology. My graduate work was very much focused on biological anthropology, with specialized research in osteology and paleopathology.

What do you do at the museum?

My job is very multi-faceted, which is what makes it fun! On one hand, I am responsible for making sure that our collections are safe, properly housed, and their data accessible. In addition, I curate exhibits which focus on the museum’s amazing collections. As a result, I am required to perform research on our collections in order to catalogue and exhibit specimens and artifacts. I also train interns from various colleges and universities in museology techniques and skeletal research, as well as make our collections available to researchers who will publish journal articles, theses, and dissertations focused on our collections.

What's a surprising thing about the work you've been doing?

I am continuously surprised and amazed by the remarkably fabulous items in our collections. I think that I have my few “favorites,” and then I come across something else that I have to add to the list!

What would you recommend to others who want to do what you do?

Get as much education as you can. It is wonderfully fulfilling to continuously search for knowledge through things like books, classes, lectures, and traveling. Oh, and it’s a great idea to intern or volunteer at a museum!

What would you recommend to the lay person who wanted to learn more about what you do?

Ah, this is a tough one! There are so many recommendations. In a more educational light, I would suggest Archaeology Magazine. It provides readers with varied information concerning our human heritage. I would also recommend Anastasia: Dead or Alive, a PBS NOVA video about the disappearance of the Romanovs and the subsequent pronouncement that a woman in the United States, Anna Anderson, was really the missing Princess Anastasia. There’s also a good recent PBS NOVA series about human evolution called Becoming Human

The fun answer would be Star Trek: The Next Generation. To boldly go where no one has gone before? To make sure you don’t interfere with the development of other civilizations? To learn how to interact with other cultures? To travel to far off, exotic places! Yeah…I would definitely join Star Fleet!

What's the biggest misconception about your work?

That we study dinosaurs.

What are your next steps?

Lately, I have been focused on re-housing some of our skeletal collections. I have also been working with a 3-D laser scanner to document as many of our specimens and artifacts as I can. There is always so much fun stuff to do! The possibilities are endless.


— Shannon Fogg, Marketing Associate


California Tower Photo Contest Winners

We know you love the California Tower as much as we do! So we asked our community to take an inspiring photo and share it with us for our first-ever Tower Photo Contest. These are the winning submissions.

"Classic California" by Alex Dejacacion

"Classic California" by Alex Dejacacion


"California Tower With Trees" by Al Rodriguez

"California Tower With Trees" by Al Rodriguez


"Tower, Dome and Lamp Silhouette" by Antonio Torres

"Tower, Dome and Lamp Silhouette" by Antonio Torres


"The Tower in the Park" by Dave Roberts

"The Tower in the Park" by Dave Roberts


"Tower At Night" by Evan McGinnis

"Tower At Night" by Evan McGinnis


"Fountain & Tower at Sunset" by Jolyne Harris

"Fountain & Tower at Sunset" by Jolyne Harris


"Preparing for the Centennial" by Mark Floyd

"Preparing for the Centennial" by Mark Floyd


"View from Sculpture Garden" by Violet Bassett-Mathy

"View from Sculpture Garden" by Violet Bassett-Mathy

Buy Thrilling Books and Support the San Diego Museum of Man!

Generosity comes in lots of forms, but how about from an author of fiction thrillers? San Diego native Andrew Peterson does just that: he generously gives 50% of all sales from his debut thriller, First to Kill, to the San Diego Museum of Man. 

Andrew’s books tell the story of former Marine sniper Nathan McBride, a hired gun who uses his unique skills for private clients. His dark past and promising new life create intense drama and conflict as he carries out risky jobs in a quest for justice. He’s forced to look inside himself for strength and integrity as he takes on what proves to be the most monumental work of his life. 


Praise for Peterson's Trilogy

Nathan McBride is “the most brutally effective thriller hero to appear in years.” Ridley Pearson, author of Killer Weekend, in praise of First to Kill. 

“A high-powered thriller from a magnum-force writer.” —David Dun, author of The Black Silent, in praise of First to Kill.

“An absolutely bone-chilling thriller. Equal parts Stephen Hunter and Thomas Harris. Imagine Bob Lee Swagger going after Hannibal Lecter and you will have only scratched the surface of this intensely exciting novel. Forced To Kill will haunt you long after you read its last brilliantly plotted page.” —Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Foreign Influence, in praise of Forced to Kill. 

“Part Jack Reacher, part Jason Bourne, Nathan McBride is a compelling, conflicted hero. Option to Kill is a masterful thrill ride. Definitely one for your keeper shelf. I couldn’t put it down.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Columbus Affair.

Read more and purchase the books here. The books are available in hard copy, e-reader, and audio formats.


About Andrew Peterson 

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Andrew attended La Jolla High School before enrolling at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a bachelor of science in architecture.

Andrew began writing fiction in 1990. First To Kill was Andrew’s debut novel and is in its second printing. Andrew has given away hundreds of books to veterans and donated more than 2,000 books to troops and wounded warriors around the world.

Read more about Andrew here.

Tower Dreams

UPDATE: Tickets to climb the California Tower are now available!

 The view from the California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man is magnificent. 

At your feet is the cultural center of Balboa Park, with its museums, theaters, well-ordered gardens, and the San Diego Zoo

To the east are arid mountains set against perfect cornflower blue skies. 

To the south is the arc of the Coronado Bridge – high enough to let masted ships pass – then Mexico. 

To the southwest are the modern glass shapes of downtown San Diego.

To the near west is the stark white Cabrillo Bridge, then further out the dark spur of Point Loma and the twinkling Pacific Ocean. 

To the north are San Diego homes and businesses. 

Peaking at 208 feet above the ground on elevated land in the city’s green jewel of a park, the California Tower and its companion the California Dome are the most recognizable architecture in San Diego. 

Despite the amazing vistas, few living people have stood inside the Tower and looked out: there has been no public access to that view for more than 75 years. 

That could change. Earlier this year, the San Diego City Council funded a study to examine the possibility of reopening the Tower. The staff at San Diego Museum of Man dream of offering Tower tours to the public. 

Ideally, the Tower would re-open for the 2015 Centennial Celebration. This year-long festival will celebrate the 100th birthday of Balboa Park, which was created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition that memorialized the opening of the Panama Canal. 

Built as one of three permanent buildings for the exposition (along with two other structures in Balboa Park: the Cabrillo Bridge and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion), the California Tower and Dome are an amalgam of Spanish and Mexican styles. These iconic buildings are so compelling in their design that they were used as the exterior shot of Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu Mansion in Orson Welles' movie, Citizen Kane

Originally, the buildings housed the San Diego Museum Association, established in 1915 as a museum of anthropology. Later, the association changed its name to the San Diego Museum of Man (with “San Diego” added in 1978). The Tower continues to be part of the San Diego Museum of Man today, ringing out a welcome to all who visit Balboa Park. 

Instead of large cast bells, the Tower’s music comes from an electronic carillon installed in 1946 and upgraded in the 1990s. A musician sits at a standard musical keyboard and plays the tunes, which are translated to signals for programmed bell-ringing later. The bells are small but highly amplified – real metal is hitting real metal when the Tower’s tones are heard. 

The dream of re-opening the Tower is not a sure thing. Many problems and concerns need to be addressed including ones of accessibility, building codes, costs, maintenance issues, and more. 

If public access to the Tower is approved, it will be the reinvigoration of a public good, a revitalization of a civic space, and the greatest photo opportunity in all of San Diego.

Grant Barrett, Marketing Manager

Almost Featured in “From the Vault!”

Choosing among over 400,000 ethnographic, physical anthropology, and archaeological objects from around the world to showcase in our latest exhibit, From the Vault,was not an easy task. Many of the pieces that ended up in the exhibit are favorites of the staff or pieces that have not been on display in a long time, if ever. Here are a few pieces that we didn't include but thought were too interesting to keep to ourselves. 

We have very little in the way of historic turn-of-the-century pieces of Americana, so this doctor’s bag is an unusual piece for us to have collected. This bag was donated to SDMoM in 1959 and is originally from Texas, circa 1900.  Inside there are 51 glass vials, many of which still have the original medications inside, as well as a collection of prescription cards. Several of the medications were removed at one point to prevent future damage to the bag (or to the staff). 

Another item that did not make the cut is the pair of shoes, also known as mukluks. Mukluks are typically made from animal hide like seal or reindeer and are sometimes lined with fur. Used as cold weather shoes, this type of footwear allows air exchange, decreasing the chances of frostbite in the freezing temperatures of the artic. This particular pair of mukluks is for an infant or small child, measuring about 4 inches in length. They are made of walrus hide, circa 1915 from Seward, Alaska. 

This last object is a sword and sheath.  Although very interesting, this didn't make the cut simply because we don’t know a lot about it. It was collected in 1953, originally from China. Both the sword and the sheath are made up of a combination of wood and metal, with complementary engravings.

Karen Lacy, Collections Manager