The San Diego Museum of Man recognizes that the Museum, Balboa Park, and the city of San Diego reside on the ancestral territory and homeland of the Kumeyaay Peoples, past and present.

The Kumeyaay: Native Californians/Iipai-Tipai exhibit recently underwent a refresh as part of our ongoing commitment to decolonizing initiatives, and new standards for ethical, equitable, and inclusive museum practices which put Indigenous voice and decision-making at the forefront. This new version of the this exhibit features brand-new graphics, narrative language, and cultural resources.

We recognize that previous iterations of the Kumeyaay: Native Californians/Iipai-Tipai exhibit—first installed more than twenty years ago—largely presented the Kumeyaay as people of the past. This was a common approach in anthropology museums when describing the lives of Indigenous communities and caused damage to these communities and the perception of Indigenous peoples. 

As the first steps to address issues with this exhibit, we have:

  • Removed objects that are subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
  • Begun the process of removing items that have been looted from gravesites, village sites, and ceremonial grounds.
  • Begun updating the exhibit language to acknowledge the Kumeyaay Peoples, both past and present.

Our next steps in this process include:

  • Collaborating with the Kumeyaay Peoples on a co-created exhibit that privileges and prioritizes Kumeyaay voices, needs, and requests.
  • Being truthful and transparent about our history and our work moving forward.

The refreshed Kumeyaay: Native Californians/Iipai-Tipai exhibit is now open, and highlights traditional and contemporary Kumeyaay lifeways, featuring the art of pottery and basket making, food procurement, dress and adornment, traditional medicine, games, and ceremonies. Objects and photographs from the museum’s cultural resources highlight the rich cultural heritage and living traditions of the Kumeyaay Peoples.

Learn more about the exhibit here.

Please note that the Kumeyaay Cosmology Dome portion of the exhibit is temporarily closed for refurbishment. We apologize for any inconvenience.