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San Diego Museum Of Man Changes Name To San Diego Museum Of Us

Pictured is the fountain in the center of the Plaza de Panama at Balboa Park,...

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: Pictured is the fountain in the center of the Plaza de Panama at Balboa Park, Jan. 15, 2015.

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An anthropological museum in Balboa Park that was known as the Museum of Man for more than 40 years has a new name — the Museum of Us.

Aired: August 10, 2020 | Transcript

An anthropological museum in Balboa Park that was known as the Museum of Man for more than 40 years has a new name — the Museum of Us.

The renaming of the museum is part of a broader effort to reassess its role in the community and "a new identity that better reflects our work towards equity, inclusion and decolonization," according to a museum statement.

Discussion of changing the name began as far back as 1991 after community members said the gendering of the museum's name made some feel unwelcome. The name change announcement Sunday afternoon followed two years of discussion, stakeholder meetings, surveys and an interactive name change exhibit temporarily installed in the museum's rotunda.

"Over the past 10 years, we've turned the very idea of a museum on its head, challenging assumptions every step of the way," said Museum of Us CEO Micah Parzen. "We've discussed taboos, swapped our inner-most secrets, invited aerosol artists to make their mark on our walls, and even skated a half- pipe on our balcony, sharing beers under the rotunda all the while."

The renaming is one piece of the changes happening at the museum, built on unceded Kumeyaay land in Balboa Park.

"Not only did the museum's old name support patriarchal systems, but it represented a colonial past that perpetuated racist narratives and harmed Indigenous communities," according to the museum's statement. "Today, we recognize that our mission can only authentically be fulfilled through a decolonial process that centers around truthfulness, accountability and reconciliation."

Along with the name change, the museum will refer to artifacts, curators, exhibits and visitors as cultural resources, community voices, experiences and participants, respectively.

The museum has been a part of Balboa Park since its completion for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

The facility is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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