About Us

About the San Diego Museum of Man


From monsters and beer history, to the power of secrets, to our relationships with animals and the truth about cannibalism – there’s something for everyone at the San Diego Museum of Man!

Located in the heart of beautiful Balboa Park, the Museum of Man is a cultural anthropology museum that explores the human experience from multicultural perspectives to spark dialogue, self-reflection, and human connections.

During your visit, you’ll explore a variety of unique, interactive exhibits that cover a vast range of human history and culture. Plus, you can make your visit even more memorable with a visit to the limited-time exhibit, Cannibals: Myth & Reality.

  • Living with Animals explore the dynamic relationships humans have with the animals in their daily lives, from beloved pets and irksome pests, to the food on their dinner plates.
  • PostSecret, based on the community art project, explores the power secrets have to connect us all.
  • Cannibals: Myth & Reality is a thoughtful, one-of-a-kind exhibit where you’ll discover that cannibals aren’t who you think they are. Could you be a cannibal?
  • BEERology features thousands of years of beer history from around the world, including cool artifacts like a solid-gold cup of an Incan king.
  • Monsters! is a fun exhibit for families that explores how we turn our fears into creatures of myth and legend.
  • 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.
  • Maya: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth. Discover the truth behind the Ancient Maya and see pieces of a sophisticated and complex culture. Read about our detailed casts of ancient Mayan monuments.

The San Diego Museum of Man has been educating and entertaining visitors from San Diego and around the world for over 100 years. There’s always something fun and unexpected to discover when you walk through our front doors!

The California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man will temporarily be closed to the public beginning Monday, February 18, 2019, when the City of San Diego commences a seismic retrofit of the historic structure.

Public Tower tours will resume when the Tower reopens at the completion of the seismic retrofit, which is anticipated to last seven to ten months. Learn more about the seismic retrofit here.

Our Mission

Inspiring human connections by exploring the human experience.

The Historic Buildings

The California Building, home to the San Diego Museum of Man, was constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It was designed by noted architect Bertram Goodhue as a design hybrid, blending Plateresque, Baroque, Churrigueresque, and Rococo details to present a unique Spanish-Colonial façade. Its design hints of Gothic influence with inspiration from Spanish churches in Mexico.

A symbol of San Diego, the California Building served as a magnificent entry to the 1915 Exposition.  It was complemented by a Mission-style building constructed directly across the promenade from the California Building and attached to it with two arcaded passageways. Massive arched gateways enclosed the structures to form the Plaza de California. The south side of the plaza included the beautiful St. Francis Chapel (used for weddings today) and its impressive Spanish-style altar.

Read the full history of the California Tower, Dome, and Quadrangle.

We believe in creating a healthy community and environment for our guests. Learn about our sustainability initiatives here.

Photo of the San Diego Museum of Man by Samantha Darling.