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San Diego, California: Museum of Us

Lots of skulls, some anatomically correct mannequins (avert your eyes, children!), and the taxidermied body of M'bongo the Gorilla. Formerly the Museum of Man.

1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA
In Balboa Park on El Pardo Street. Get here early or you'll have a problem finding a spot to park.
Daily 10 am - 4:30 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Museum of Us

The Museum of Man is now the Museum of Us. The name changed in 2020 to be more inclusive.

[Jeremy, 05/30/2021]

M'bongo bronze bust at the San Diego Zoo.

Museum of Man - M'bongo the Gorilla

M'bongo is featured at the San Diego Museum of Man, and currently is part of the primates section of our new permanent exhibition, "Footsteps Through Time: Four Million Years of Human Evolution." M'bongo, a rare and endangered Mountain gorilla, lived from 1939 until his death in 1942 at the San Diego Zoo, where he is memorialized with a bronze bust. His taxidermied body has been a featured exhibit at the Museum of Man for many years and currently serves, along with his skeleton, to educate visitors about non-human primates.

[Ken Hedges, 10/27/2002]

Here is a photo of the M'Bongo bronze bust at the San Diego Zoo.

Blunt force skull injury.

Museum of Man

If someone could only see one attraction in San Diego, I would without hesitation send them to the Museum of Man. The museum features mummified adults, babies, and hawks, shrunken heads, plus so many skulls I lost track.

It starts with a showcase of bones. Arm and leg bones show what happens if a fully fractured bone is allowed to heal without being correctly set. Full fetal and adolescent skeletons stand side-by-side for comparion, the skulls showing damage from "blunt force." Other skulls damaged from leishmaniasis and syphilis should not be missed.

After the bones, you wind through some Central American artifacts, then up some stairs to an entire wing dedicated to human development, showing the miracle of birth. On a looping videotape, cartoon babies point out fascinating facts about human development.

The Human Evolution section contains a half-dozen or so anatomically complete cavemen from different periods of human development. The cavemen were detailed enough to embarrass parents, and I heard the question "Mom, what's THAT?" from several children more than once.

The Egyptian Section has mummified people and birds, and another section even more interesting stuff -- but my brain was so full I can't remember what exactly....

[Greg Brown, 04/08/2001]

Greg's photos included views of the "Bones in Culture" exhibit, likely an excuse for museum staff Deadheads to display Grateful Dead skeleton concert memorabilia.

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