See "Monsters!" at the Museum of Man This October

October is the perfect month to check out Monsters!, an exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Man, where you might find out, once and for all, what’s hiding under the bed!

In this exhibit, you can see beasts familiar and strange, real and imagined, kind-hearted and troublesome, from across the span of human history and culture. You’ll learn where they come from, what they look like, how they behave, and how to defeat them.

They’ve reached into their vast collections to bring out unusual monster artifacts you can see and touch, and they’ve borrowed a few from other museums, as well, just to make sure the exhibit is chock-full of cool stuff. This brand-new, one-of-a-kind exhibit is loaded with interactive fun for the whole family: make a monster of your own, put on a play with strange creatures, find out how to defend yourself from monsters’ wily ways, learn the truth about monster legends, and explore monster habitats, including caves, the sea, under the bed, and elsewhere!

Which stone age creature’s skull was thought to belong to a monster? Whose giant tentacle was mistaken for something far more mythical? What does a Sasquatch smell like? Head to the Museum of Man this Halloween season and find out!

The California Building, home to the San Diego Museum of Man, was constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It was designed by noted architect Bertram Goodhue as a design hybrid, blending Plateresque, Baroque, Churrigueresque, and Rococo details to present a unique Spanish-Colonial façade. Its design hints of Gothic influence with inspiration from Spanish churches in Mexico.

A symbol of San Diego, the California Building served as a magnificent entry to the 1915 Exposition.  It was complemented by a Mission-style building constructed directly across the promenade from the California Building and attached to it with two arcaded passageways. Massive arched gateways enclosed the structures to form the Plaza de California. The south side of the plaza included the beautiful St. Francis Chapel (used for weddings today) and its impressive Spanish-style altar.

Perched atop tiers of stone ornamentation on the California Building’s façade are sculpted historical figures and busts. These were created by the Piccirilli Brothers, who were skilled marble carvers in Italy before immigrating to the United States in 1888.

The California Building, unlike the Spanish-Colonial churches in Mexico that inspired Goodhue, is notably plain and gray. Color highlights appear on the green woodwork of the frames, the deeper green of the ironwork, the brown of the door, and the colored tiles on the dome and tower.

Though the building façade is impressive, the three-stage tower is iconic in San Diego. The outline of the tower is Spanish, but its details and color are reflective of Mexico.  The shining tiles, sparkling glass beads, and graceful proportions of the tower complement the central dome, as well as the two minor domes behind the California Building.

The California Building has been mentioned more often than any other San Diego building in studies of American architecture. The building is included in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the California Quadrangle. And the California Building tower is recorded in the Historic Buildings Survey in the Library of Congress.

Also part of the San Diego Museum of Man’s footprint is the Irving Gill Administration Building constructed in 1911. This building was the first structure in Balboa Park, serving as the planning headquarters for the entire Panama-California Exposition. Today it houses the offices for SDMoM staff. The City of San Diego owns the San Diego Museum of Man buildings and recently began work on facility improvements, including the California Building dome and the structures surrounding the California Plaza.


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