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Rites of Passage’ Exhibit Celebrates Cultures Of Southeast San Diego

Some regions of Somalia celebrate the Shaash Saar, or scarf ceremony. Seven d...

Credit: San Diego Museum of Man

Above: Some regions of Somalia celebrate the Shaash Saar, or scarf ceremony. Seven days after the wedding, a Somali bride will attend a big gathering of women who each bring a shaash and, one by one, place it on the bride's head.


Rex Garniewicz, Chief Operating Officer, San Diego Museum of Man

Katherine Yee, Creative Director, San Diego Museum of Man


In 2010, residents and artists from Southeast San Diego came together to talk about how they were represented in the arts community. They did not feel they had a voice within the museums of Balboa Park. With this in mind, an exhibit was conceived that would draw directly from the community by featuring its very own artifacts. This partnership was called the Center for Community & Cultural Arts Learning Partnership.

Last fall, Rites of Passage: Our Journeys Through Life opened at the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center in Southeast San Diego. Part of a partnership between several Balboa Park museums and the Center for Community and Cultural Arts, the exhibit was the first of its kind: a partnership between the local community and a large-scale museum that actually showcased artifacts from community members.

After a successful first run at the community center, the exhibit is now moving on to Balboa Park's San Diego Museum of Man, and will feature more than 50 artifacts that signify important cultural life events. Artifacts from around the world made their way into the exhibit, including a Filipino debut gown, an American prom dress, Somali shaash saar ceremony photographs (pictured above) and many more.

Split into four life stages, the exhibit will cover birth and youth, coming of age, identity, status, death and beyond.

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