Here is part three of my solo adventures in San Diego. I started off the day by going to a museum just a few blocks from the convention center and then heading over to Balboa Park to visit more of the museums there.
My first stop of the day was at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. This museum promotes the history and culture of the original Chinese immigrants. San Diego’s downtown used to be a Chinatown. The building that now houses the museum was once the church and school for the local Chinese community. In the 1990s, this building was slated for demolition but the San Diego Chinese Historical Society was able to save it. In 1996, it became the museum it is today. It has expanded throughout the years and now includes two other facilities and a garden behind the original museum.
What surprised me the most about this museum was how many artifacts it had within it. It may be a small building, but it has hundreds, if not more, items inside. You can easily spend a couple of hours here. There are ancient coins, beautiful artwork, traditional clothing and furniture, items from Chinese operated laundry services and the Chinese lotto (Keno). Plus there is the garden in back which has more items to see as well as some pretty Koi fish (Carp). If you love Chinese culture and heritage, then you’ll definitely want to visit this museum as well as its other facilities.
After that I headed over to Balboa Park again and visited the San Diego Air and Space Museum. This museum, unlike the others, is on the other side of the park and sits by itself. It’s not hard to see why though. The building is huge, probably the biggest there. The Air and Space museum showcases the history of aviation from the first hot air balloon in 1783 to NASA space aircraft. All the planes (minus the small models of course) are real and fully restored.
My next stop was the San Diego Museum of Art. This museum was created in response to the need for a permanent art collection after the Panama-California International Exposition in 1915-1916. The museum was completed and opened in 1926. It houses a wide and diverse collection of artwork, including European, Asian and Native American art. The museum has both permanent and and temporary exhibits. Many of the ones I saw there in 2014 might not be there anymore, but I still encourage you to go and check it out. One of the current exhibits is Chinese paintings. You can view this guide/map to see the current exhibits.
My last event for the day was the ESRI Family Night party. In 2014, this event was held at Balboa Park. On that night, all ESRI conference attendees and their family get together for some food and fun. All conference attendees’ admission is included with the price of the conference fee. All guests (family/friends) must pay $50 each to attend. For this event, six of the museums were open after hours for ESRI attendees while the rest of the park was closed off to the public. There was food provided to attendees and some live entertainment. I decided to visit the Natural History Museum after eating and enjoying some performances.
The Natural History Museum houses a variety of exhibits. Two of the exhibits I saw are no longer there. The first was “Real Pirates,” which had artifacts from the only authenticated pirate shipwreck discovered in U.S. waters. The other was “The Natural World: Photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen“. Photography was not allowed for either of those two exhibits. Two exhibits I saw then are still there and these I was able to take photos of. One features human and animal skulls and the other discusses the history of water in California. If you’re interested in animals, photography and dinosaurs, this is the museum for you.
This was my busiest day, seeing four different museums and I enjoyed them all.
I’ll have my adventures from my last day in part four of this post.