The Fascinating Museum Of Us

California Tower and Museum of Man from Balboa Park

The Museum of Us is another outstanding cultural institution found within the remarkable confines of San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park. Located next to the Japanese Friendship Garden and the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Us is devoted to all things anthropological. Its numerous exhibits are all dedicated to inspiring interpersonal connections by analyzing what it means to be human. There are significant displays here on fascinating subjects like the Maya people, beer, and Ancient Egypt, as well as the California Tower and the history of pets.

Museum of Us History 

The Museum of Us got its start, like so many of San Diego’s prominent Balboa Park-area attractions, as part of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Back then the site was known by its exhibit name of “The Story of Man through the Ages” (later it would become the San Diego Museum of Man), and its primary installation showcased a collection of pottery, artifacts, and specimens from all over the world. These items were assembled under the roof of the stunning California Building. Designed by Bertram Goodhue, the California Building fused together multiple different architectural styles into one unforgettable form, highlighted by its iconic California Tower.

Though the museum has undergone changes in the decades since its founding, the California Building has been a constant, and stands today as one of the structures most identifiable with the city of San Diego. In 2020, the museum changed its name to the Museum of Us, as part of a process intending to emphasize the attraction’s inclusivity.

Save on your visit to the Museum of Us!
Museum of Us is included on the Go San Diego Pass. Save an additional 5% on the Go City Pass with Coupon Code: GO5CMANTIS The discount stacks on top the current sale prices! Promo expires on February 29th.

What’s at the Museum of Us

The Museum of Us is home to many different permanent exhibits that explore the history of human experience. You’ll find here galleries like Living with Animals, which charts the course of humans’ relationships with animals through the ages; Maya: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth, a newly refurbished setup that presents the past and present complexities of that great civilization; and Race: Are We So Different?, a gallery of presentations that trace the history of race and racism.

The Ancient Egypt exhibit takes visitors on a powerful journey through the ins and outs of everyday life along the Nile. The oldest artifacts that feature in this exhibit date back to the year 5000 BCE, and include such diverse objects as bowls, amulets, and steles that would have been part of a funeral ceremony.

Those visitors who’ve enjoyed an adult beverage or two in their time will get a kick out of BEERology. This fun, informative exhibit explains just how much of the history of human civilization has involved the brewing process. Along the way you’ll learn the ways in which nearly every major culture on Earth has made use of alcohol and various brewing techniques.

A major highlight of the Museum of Us is the California Tower. This ornate structure has become one of the symbols of the city of San Diego, and you can tour it when you visit the museum. Climbing the California Tower culminates in the stunning views available from the eight-floor viewing deck. There you’ll be able to enjoy breathtaking, panoramic vistas of San Diego and snap some hard-to-beat pictures.

Tips for Visiting the Museum of Us

  • If you are seeing other sights while in San Diego you can save some money if by getting a Go San Diego Pass. The Museum of Us is included as are many other great San Diego Attractions.
  • The California Tower Tour is not included in the museum’s general admission ticket. You will have to pay extra to tour the tower, but most visitors deem it well worth the price. These tours run every day at 10:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, and 4:00pm. They last about 40 minutes.
  • You won’t be permitted to bring any belongings, bags, or personal items with you during the California Tower Tour. However, free locker spaces are provided where you can store your stuff for the duration of the tour.
  • As you decide whether or not the California Tower Tour is right for you, please keep in mind that the eighth-floor viewing deck is approximately 350 feet above sea level, it takes roughly 150 steps to get there, and there is no elevator.
  • The Museum of Us strongly encourages guests planning to tour the California Tower to wear “flat-soled shoes that cover the whole foot.” This is to make you as comfortable as possible as you move through the vertical spaces of this famous structure.