Welcome to the long-overdue-first-post on the San Diego Museum of Man’s blog!

Please check-in with us periodically—I’ll be posting on a semi-regular basis, along with other members of the SDMoM community, from curators to board members to volunteers, and everyone in between.

As part of our effort to inspire human connections by exploring the human experience, we’ll be covering a wide variety of anthropological topics that consider not only our many and interesting differences as cultural beings, but also our similarities as human beings.

From time-to-time, we’ll also share some insight into the inner workings of SDMoM itself.  From the process of evolving an exhibit from the brain-storming stage to the gallery floor to the fascinating stories behind some of the most extraordinary artifacts in our collections, we hope you’ll find our work as museum professionals as interesting and rewarding as we do.

In addition, we hope to hear from you about what you like most about SDMoM and how you would like to see us continue to grow as a museum.

Getting started is always hardest, so here goes:

I recently came back from France where I had something I will likely never have again in my life: two days alone in Paris.  The highlight was a behind-the-scenes-tour of the Musee du Quai Branly, Jacques Chirac’s extraordinary anthropology museum along the Seine River.  It was nothing short of fantastic and, after the tour, I spent another three hours just taking it all in at my own pace.   I particularly love the Branly’s tag-line, which is, roughly translated: “Where cultures dialogue.”  The museum is stunningly beautiful and it does extraordinarily well in elevating indigenous art to a par with that of the West but, in fact, there is very little dialogue present, or even any room for it throughout the museum.   Nonetheless, I left feeling uplifted, not only by the extraordinary beauty of the Branly’s architecture and artifacts, but also by the recognition that while SDMoM cannot compete with the Branly in terms of its collections and 70 million Euro budget, SDMoM truly can become the most interesting, engaging, and inspiring anthropology museum in the world.  Mark my words.

On my second day in Paris while wandering the Marais, I happened upon a book that I had been wanting to buy for some time called “Paris Primitive: Jacques Chirac’s Museum of the Quai Branly” by Sally Price (University of Chicago Press, 2007), an anthropologist at the College of William and Mary.  It was a wonderful read, particularly after experiencing the Branly firsthand, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in “the massive reconfiguration of Paris’s museum world that resulted from Chirac’s dream, set against a backdrop of personal and national politics, intellectual life, and the role of culture in French society.”  (Paris Primitive, Back Cover.)  Enjoy!

Next stop?  Kunming, China for the 2011 Humanity Photo Awards.  Stay tuned!

Micah D. Parzen, Ph.D., J.D.
Chief Executive Officer