San Diego Museum of Man


Location: Balboa Park (3 Miles Northeast of Downtown San Diego)

Open Daily: 10AM – 5PM. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day

Cost: $12.50 ($6 for Kids ages 3 – 12, $8 for Students, $10 for Seniors and Military)

Features: Anthropology Museum Famous for its Galleries covering 4 Million Years of Human Evolution; a Children’s Discovery Center; Ancient Egyptian Exhibition; Extensive Collection of Pre-Columbian Artifacts.

museum-of-manSan Diego Museum of Man Highlights: Visitors come from all over to visit one of the most impressive exhibitions of human evolution in the country. Equally impressive is the exhibition of artifacts over 3,000 years old from Ancient Egypt, including a human mummy and sacred amulets. The Museum does an excellent job of engaging visitors with hands-on exhibits, especially in the Children’s Discovery Center. With the Latin American border only miles away from the Museum, it has naturally acquired one of the largest collections of Pre-Columbian Artifacts, punctuated with giant replicas of monuments from the Mayan Civilization that are covered in hieroglyphics.

When to Visit the Museum of Man

  • Admission on the third Tuesday of every month is free. If you want to avoid the crowds, it is best to avoid this day, especially during the summer months when there are upwards of 4,000 visitors on the Free Day.

What to Expect

  • Plan on spending at least four hours in this anthropology museum and much more if you want to take your time. There are many interesting descriptions, stories, and anecdotes noted at most of the exhibits.
  • You can obtain a map of the Museum and locations of the exhibitions at the entrance (except on the Free Third Tuesdays noted above).
  • The Museum consists of two floors on both sides of the El Prado (street).
  • There is an orientation video, which is located at the end of the hallway to your left. From here, you can take the adjacent stairs up to the Evolution Exhibition.
  • The Permanent Exhibitions on Evolution, Ancient Egypt, Children’s Discovery Center, and Native Americans are on the 2nd Floor.

Anthropology Exhibitions – There are five permanent exhibitions covering Mayan Culture, Kumeyaay Indians of Southern California, Ancient Egypt, Human Evolution, and the Human Life Cycle. Two of the more popular exhibitions, Human Evolution and the Children’s Discovery Center, are noted in more detail below. When you are outside of the Ancient Egypt Exhibition, don’t miss the opportunity to translate your name into Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs for a nominal fee.

The are generally three additional exhibitions displayed on a temporary basis. Some are traveling exhibitions hosted by the Museum of Man while others are created from the Museum’s own extensive collection of Western and Latin American artifacts kept in storage. View the current exhibitions for details and special events related to the exhibits.

Evolution of Man – Five galleries take visitors through 4 million years of human evolution with hands-on exhibits that explore the past as well as imagine the future. As you enter the Museum, head down the hallway to your left and then follow the footsteps that take you upstairs to the first gallery. Be sure not to rush through a small hallway that holds placards noting the years when developments were made by humankind, such as the Olympic Games in 776 B.C. This hallway is a favorite for visitors to find what developments were made during their year of birth. You can also take a virtual tour of the evolution exhibit online.

Children’s Discovery Center – Interactive exhibits engage children in understanding Egyptian culture and the fields of anthropology and archeology. Kids can dress up in costumes of pharaohs and explore a replica of a current day archeology camp in Egypt. This exhibit area closes early (around 2:30PM) so be sure to take that into consideration when planning your visit.

Tours – Volunteers provide tours of the Museum on Saturdays at 11AM and 1PM.

Events Calendar – Guest Lectures, Storytelling, and other Special Events highlight the Museum’s Collections.

Celebrate the Heritage of Man – The most popular Museum of Man event is the Tower after Hours program. Several times a year, the Museum hosts a Thursday night gathering to celebrate the culture of a particular country. From Ireland to Peru to China and beyond, celebrate with music, food, and a display of artifacts telling the stories of the respective countries. It is open to people of all ages. Tickets are about $20 but there are discounts for certain age groups as well as an occasional online coupon. Check the events calendar for the next scheduled event and take a look at the Tower After Hours archives to see what to expect.

Food – There is no food available in the Museum of Man. However, a full service cafe, Sculpture Court Cafe, is next door, near the Art Museum entrance. If you are looking for something more than what is offered in a cafe, Balboa Park’s Prado Restaurant is more of an upscale full-service restaurant. You can read more about the food options on the Balboa Park web site.

No Smoking is allowed in the Museum of Man. Smoking is allowed in the courtyard behind the Museum of Man, which leads to the Old Globe Theatre. This is the only smoking location available in Balboa Park.

Information on Visiting the Museum of Man

Admission Prices:

  • Parking is Free
  • Standard Fee is $12.50
  • $8 for Kids Ages 13-17 and Students, $10 for Seniors 62 and over and Active Military with I.D.
  • $6 for Kids Ages 3-12.
  • General Admission is Free for San Diego County residents and for Active Military & their families on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.
  • Passport to Balboa Park – Pay one low price for a Pass that will allow you one entry into each of thirteen participating Balboa Park Museums. You have seven days to use the Park Pass once you begin using it. For an additional fee, you can add a discounted San Diego Zoo Best Value ticket.  Also note, the Passport to Balboa Park Pass allows you to watch an IMAX movie at the Science Center. Passport to Balboa Park tickets can be purchased online or at participating attractions, except at the Zoo.

Directions from Google Maps to 1350 El Prado in San Diego, CA 92101. Google will recommend surface streets through business and residential areas to reach the Museum of Man. This is fine. However, if you want to avoid residential streets and gain easier access to larger parking lots, use the directions for 2215 Pan American Road, which will put you right at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road noted in the parking section below.

Parking – The Museum of Man does not have a parking lot. The nearby parking lots at the San Diego Art Museum and behind the Mingei Museum fill-up quickly. The closest large parking lot is at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road. (Note: Do not make a right turn at the first street you see on Presidents Way. It does not access the parking lot even though it looks like it should.) Once you park, you can walk about 100 yards up a small hill, turn left on El Prado and walk another 40 yards. Or, you can take the free Balboa Park Tram from the street corner up to the Prado stop.

If you don’t want to deal with parking hassles, especially during the summer and on weekends, go to the large parking lots on the opposite side of Park Boulevard. They are on Presidents Way on the east side of Park Boulevard, away from the museums. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway and circulates every 10 minutes from 8:30AM – 6PM daily with extended hours during the summer and special occasions.

Traffic – Unless there is a major event at Balboa Park, which occurs a few times during the year, getting in and out of Balboa Park is relatively easy using Park Boulevard. If you approach Balboa Park using southbound SR-163, traffic occasionally backs up a little over a mile before reaching the Park Boulevard Exit, which is the same exit for the I-5 northbound. However, the delay will only take a few extra minutes. Likewise, if you are planning to get on SR-163 northbound after leaving Balboa, plan on a short delay during the mid and late afternoon hours as a few entrance ramps merge together before reaching the highway. (Learn how to get the latest traffic updates.)

Transit – Buses serving Balboa Park drop passengers off on Park Boulevard near the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Museum of Natural History. The stop is underneath a pedestrian bridge, which you can take to reach the Museum of Man, which is a little beyond the other end of the Pedestrian Mall. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map, which includes Balboa Park, and information for the online Transit Planner.)

You can also get off the bus at Presidents Way to catch the Free Balboa Park Tram. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway, on the east side of Presidents Way and circulates every 10 minutes from here to the main circle at the Prado stop, about 40 yards from the Museum. The Tram runs from 8:30AM – 6PM daily with extended hours during the summer and special occasions.

Balboa Park Map – The map shows a listing of all Balboa Park Museums, attractions, bus and tram stops, and places to eat. You should also print out the Balboa Park Tram Map from the City of San Diego. It is not as detailed but is helpful because it includes names on each of the buildings. With the other map, you need to use a map key to find the name of a building.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: *Top San Diego Museums*, Balboa Park, Ethnic Culture, Kids Attractions & Activities |

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