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San Diego Museum Of Man In Balboa Park Wants Your Help Deciding New Name

August 2, 2018 1:41 p.m.

Museum Of Man Wants Your Help With New Name

GUEST:

Ben Garcia, deputy director, Museum of Man

Related Story: San Diego Museum Of Man In Balboa Park Wants Your Help Deciding New Name

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The San Diego Natural History Museum updated its name with the nickname The Nat the Reuben H Fleitz Science Center's streamlined its moniker down to the fleet Science Center. Now the San Diego Museum of Man is the latest balboa park attraction to one a name change. After 70 years the museum's leaders say the name Museum of Man no longer reflects their mission. They'd like patrons and the public to weigh in on a new name and have given them five choices. And joining me is Ben Garcia deputy director of the Museum of Man. Ben welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me. Let's start off by going through the name choices the Museum of Man is offering the public what are they.

Absolutely. We have the Museum of humankind. We have the human experience we have the Museum of many. And then we have a couple that are a little bit more out there we have the we and we have one.

OK. We're going to talk more about those five in a moment but first tell us the reasons the museum wants a name change.

We're looking at a name change because as we work with visitors talk to visitors we really are recognizing that the term man which used to signify humankind in an earlier generation will be no longer has that connotation for a lot of people. And so we are looking to use language that's more transparent more accessible and language that isn't sort of sort of so weighted with a gender Association.

Do you think patrons see the museum of men now that it means the Museum of males as one of our Facebook commenters put it.

You know we actually have a number of people who quite honestly do believe that that's what we're about. We have a large number of folks who just recognize sort of how out of date that term is and we'll make remarks about well what about a museum of women or you know. So it's not necessary that they believe it. They believe that were just about issues related to men. But I think we get a lot of feedback where people recognize that that term just no longer really works.

Now where did these five possible names come from.

We had a process where we were working with a firm that's helping us to rebranded rename. We came up we generated a list of more than 60 names with that firm with some community partners we talked to staff we talked to trustees we talked to supporters of the museum members and we narrowed down that name from that group of 60 to these 10 initially and then we did some research about trademark issues and the like. And we ended up with these five finalists.

OK so let's go through the finalists again. You have the Museum of humankind which seems a pretty easy switch a museum of men.

The Museum of many the human experience which doesn't include the word museum at all and the most unusual candidates the we and one with one being in all caps.

Watch the story with the we and what we were really thinking about the ways that we are trying to change the experience for visitors at the museum from that traditional museum experience to one where people understand that they're coming to a space that is about having conversations that matter in this community and more broadly and one where we want people to engage with one another and with us around ideas that are active in the culture. So while artifacts and cultural resources collections are still going to be an important part of the experience we really wanted to change people's expectations of what they were coming to give them a little bit of a sense of intrigue or mystery but also something that very clearly underlines that message. We are about one family one human family one love and the we know we think about the we and how big that we needs to be for us to really be able to engage with each other in the ways that we hope to as a culture and as a society.

Now I noticed that several people on our Facebook page wanted the plain and simple. San Diego Museum of Anthropology.

Why isn't that a good choice.

Yet you know anthropology is the discipline in which we're rooted anthropology of course is an incredible field because it addresses all human activity. And that is what we are trying to do with more of a cultural and contemporary focus now though maybe we've had in the past. However anthropology is a term that some people just don't really relate to or understand exactly what that discipline is. It really had its heyday in the 70s in the 60s and anthropology museums around the world around the country had a lot of engagement and interest at that time. But it's a term that again just doesn't convey that sort of clarity about what we're aiming at today.

I wondering if you could tell us what are some of the current or upcoming exhibits at the Museum of Man that sort of display what the museum is about today.

Absolutely. We have we've just recently opened an exhibit called Post secrets which is a large scale social project where people confide secrets they've never shared with anyone else via postcards that they've created themselves. So we're looking at that question of what we keep secret what we don't how we find community how we find connection how we unburden ourselves we've got living with animals which is really about that human animal connection and the ways in which that changes from culture to culture are different times you know and then we've got monsters of monsters exhibit which looks cross culturally at certain kinds of monsters that show up in you know Asian or African or European or North American folklore and folktales but that are very are very similar and so it's we're really focused on that human connection piece and looking at cultural practices today. And we want a name that focuses people on that.

So the public is being invited to vote on this.

How can they do that if the public goes to our website Museum of Man dot com. They will be able to click on a link that allows them to vote on any of these options or to provide new options if they have some of their own.

And when will you be unveiling the new name of the Museum of Man.

So unfortunately first we'll be building a lot of anticipation because we will not be unveiling the new name until 2020 so spring 2020 is when we'll launch the new name and it's a two year process for us to come up with the name then come up with our brand and then change all of our collateral and our signage and all of that.

And I've been speaking with Ben Garcia deputy director of the Museum of Man. Thank you Chad.

You're welcome. Thanks so much for having me.