Brent Bernasconi

Balboa Park – New Exhibitions Opening this February

Ripley's Believe It or Not Special Exhibition at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park

Believe it or not, February is a great month to explore new exhibitions in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Why? Because February is also San Diego Museum Month, a month long event offering a 50% discount on regular admission to 42 museums throughout the county.

Please note that some special exhibitions require an additional entry fee.

New Exhibitions in Balboa Park

Ripley’s Believe It or Not

Ripley's Believe It or Not Special Exhibition at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park

Believe it or not, this is a vehicle made out of wood…and it floats!

Step right up and marvel at the ludicrously strange and extremely amusing including an actual shrunken head, unusual modes of transportation, ordinary people performing amazing feats, outer space and aviation oddities, and more inside the Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibition at the at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Don’t wait too long because these interesting artifacts won’t be back in Balboa Park for another 80+ years!

Where: 2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101 (Downtown)
When: February 1 – December 31, 2013
Cost: $5 with general admission
> Find out more about Ripley’s Believe It or Not at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

Lowrider Legends of San Diego

1951 Chevrolet Truck - San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park

See classics like this 1951 Chevy Truck Lowrider at the Lowrider Legends of San Diego exhibition.

Listen to this as you ride on over to Balboa Park’s San Diego Automotive Museum to marvel at some of the finest examples of lowriders created in the San Diego region. Included in the Lowrider Legends of San Diego exhibition are such classics as a 1951 Chevrolet truck, 1949 Hudson, 1982 Cadillac, 1939 Chevrolet and more.

Where: 2080 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101 (Downtown)
When: February 1 – June 20, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Lowrider Legends of San Diego at the San Diego Automotive Museum

Dr. Entomo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders

Jerusalem Cricket - San Diego Natural History Museum

“But be forewarned! The stars of this exhibition are sure to delight the young, inquisitive minds in your family and some grownups might find the little creatures quite outrageous.” Dr. Michael W. Hager

Behold the Devil with Two Heads centipede, tremble before the Goliath Bird-Eating tarantula, gaze upon the Glowing Terror scorpion! Dr. Entomo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders brings the most peculiar and astonishing bugs on Earth to the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT). In addition to the local insects theNAT brings to the exhibition, Dr. Entomo’s also includes 18 baffling species of live critters, as well as mounted specimens.

Where: 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 (Downtown)
When: February 22 – June 2, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Dr. Entomo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Bill Traylor

Bill Traylor - 1982 - Mingei Museum

Bill Traylor – 1982 – Mingei International Museum

A self-taught artist from Montgomery, Alabama, Bill Traylor’s depictions of life in rural and urban Alabama made him one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. The exhibition will feature more than 60 rarely seen drawings from the two largest public collections of his work, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

Cygnet Theatre and Mingei International Museum have partnered to help maximize audience for two important shows during Black History Month: the exhibition Bill Traylor and the play Gem of the Ocean running at Cygnet from January 24 – February 24.

Where: 1439 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 (Downtown)
When: February 9 – May 12, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Bill Traylor at the Mingei International Museum

> Explore more Balboa Park and San Diego County Museums


Deliciously Educational: Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Chocolate exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum
Chocolate exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum

This life-sized box of chocolates and vintage wrapper collection are all part of “Chocolate” at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Whether you’re still recovering from the Halloween sugar coma or just can’t get enough of the sweet stuff, Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum tempts visitors to its galleries with delicious exhibition that explores the history, science and culture around one of the world’s most popular treats.

The Journey of Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Cocoa beans on display at San Diego Museum of Natural History

Would you like to be paid in Chocolate?

Tracing chocolate’s journey through history, the exhibition begins at chocolate’s birthplace, the tropical rainforests where the cacao tree grows. From there, museum visitors follow chocolate through the ages, from Aztec civilization where beans were used as currency to the Spanish conquistadors who introduced chocolate to Europe and through the Industrial Revolution that led to widespread manufacturing and the emergence of chocolate in most American pantries.

Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum Information

Dates: October 29, 2012 – March 13, 2013
Time: 10:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum 

After the Exhibition, Get a Taste of Delicious Chocolate in San Diego

Truffles from Eclipse Chocolat in San Diego

Truffles from Eclipse Chocolat in San Diego

If all the chocolate treats on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum have you craving some samples, fear not: San Diego is home to some terrific chocolatiers creating museum-worthy confections. Not far from Balboa Park, you’ll find Eclipse Chocolat, where exotic truffles and decadent drinking chocolates are accented with flavors like sage, peppercorn and goat cheese. Drive up the coast to North County to one of Chuao Chocolatiers’ three locations and sample their creative flavor combinations, including a potato chip-laced chocolate bar or the “Spicy Maya” made with chipotle and homemade popping candy.


Sail through San Diego’s History with Free Tickets to the Titanic Exhibit!

Now through September 9, 2012 you can experience one of the most legendary ships of the last 100 years with TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Just comment below for a chance to win!

San Diego has a long and proud seafaring tradition that continues today. Luckily for locals and visitors alike there is always a ship, from the recreation of Cabrillo”s 1542 San Salvador, to the longest-serving aircraft carrier now permanently docked in San Diego”s harbor, the USS Midway, ready to sail you through San Diego”s honorable maritime history.

TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition

On April 15, 1912, Titanic, the world”s largest ship of its time, sank after colliding with an iceberg, claiming more than 1,500 lives and shaking the world’s confidence in the infallibility of modern technology. One hundred years later, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, which nbso online casino reviews showcases 200 artifacts retrieved from the wreck site of Titanic, arrives at theNAT.


h2>San Salvador Build Site

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is building a full-sized, fully functional and historically accurate replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo”s San Salvador capitana or flagship of the Spanish expedition which first explored what is now the West Coast of the United States. Volunteers are constructing the vessel in full public view allowing visitors the opportunity to watch history come to life before their eyes. After construction, San Salvador will become part of the Museum”s fleet of historic and replica ships and will travel along the California coast as an ambassador for San Diego.

USS Midway Museum

Over 1,000,000 annual visitors to the USS Midway Museum enter a floating city at sea and walk in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors who served our country and upheld the American ideals of strength, freedom and peace. The USS Midway Museum is an unforgettable adventure for the entire family. Guests can spend the day exploring more than 60 exhibits with a collection of 25 restored aircraft. The self-guided audio tour, narrated by Midway sailors, brings the carrier”s history to life. Those who dare can “take to the sky” aboard one of three flight simulators.

Want to sail through history? Comment below for a chance to win 2 tickets to TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition, at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Two winners will be chosen at random at 10:00 am on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Do you have a favorite ship in San Diego?

Brent Bernasconi

Museum Monday: Exciting New Exhibitions in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Learn to Fly at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

Over 16 museums and cultural institutions are spread throughout the almost 1,200 acres that make up the “Smithsonian of the West,” Balboa Park. Each museum offers unique experiences enticing visitors to return.

All of the museums keep things fresh with special traveling exhibitions that highlight exciting topics. These special exhibitions are always thought-provoking, educational and interactive. Below are just a few of these great exhibitions currently on display:

How Things Fly…

Learn to Fly at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

Learn to fly the Wright Flyer at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

Through January 2013
Ever wanted to learn to fly a plane, or simply wondered how they fly? You can at the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s How Things Fly… special exhibition. For the parents in the audience, the exhibition sneaks in education through four different areas of hands-on fun: aerodynamics, propulsion, meteorology and air traffic control. The kids won’t see the learning coming!

Even the adults will have fun while attempting simulated flight on a helicopter or the temperamental Wright Flyer. Visitors can also strap on wings in a small wind tunnel, watch global updates of weather around the world in real time, or rediscover the simple joy of the flying a paper airplane.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

Journey through the Titanic at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Take a journey through the Titanic at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Science Center

Through September 9, 2012
While visitors might not find the Heart of the Ocean diamond (sorry, I just had to!), visitors to the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum will encounter over 200 artifacts retrieved from the wreckage of the doomed RMS Titanic, including delicate bottles of perfume, china bearing the logo of the elite White Star Line, and many other now-priceless objects.

As visitors enter the exhibit, they will climb inside recreations of the Titanic’s beautiful interior, assuming the identity of one of its unfortunate passengers to relive the ill-fated journey. Moving through the exhibit, the artifacts provide an intricate narrative of the sunken wreckage as they lay dormant beneath the sea between 1912 and their discovery in 1985.

Woodies! Woodies!

Woodies! Woodies! at the San Diego Automotive Museum

Surfs Up with classic Woodies at the San Diego Automotive Museum

Through May 27, 2012
Imagine driving west, with the warm summer wind blowing though the rolled down windows, the surfboards strapped to the roof, the Beach Boys blasting through the speakers and the car filled with excitement as you head toward the beach. What type of car would you be driving? Why the Woodie of course!

At the San Diego Automotive Museum, the endless summer continues with over a dozen impeccably restored Woodies take visitors back in time.  Explore the history of these iconic and quintessential beach vehicles. Swim trunks and flip-flops are encouraged! Surf boards not included.

Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists

What is a Black Hole? at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Leant what a Black Hole is at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Through April 29, 2012
Discover how to avoid be sucked into a black hole at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center! Young and old scientists will journey into space to learn about how the theory of black holes came to be. The interactive exhibits provide an insight into how black holes work, and clears up many common misconceptions.

Remember to not get sucked in for too long, there is plenty more to see at the Fleet including Geometry Playground, on display through June 19, 2012.

There are even more great exhibitions throughout Balboa Park and you can find more information at Pick up a Passport to Balboa Park or Stay-for-the-Day Pass to save on admission. (Note: Some special exhibitions have an added cost).

Tell us in the comments below, why do you keep going back to visit the beautiful Balboa Park?


Museum Monday: Happy (Museum) Holidays

It’s beginning to look a lot like…well, you know the rest. The holiday season is upon us, and a great place to soak up the season is Balboa Park.

With more than a dozen amazing museums, Balboa Park is a joyous place any time of year. But if you’re looking for a festive exhibition with a side of Santa, you won’t want to miss these museums this December:

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Just watching the toy trains circle the tracks is enough to make anyone feel like a kid again, but every December, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum presents the Southern California LEGO Train Club’s Annual Holiday LEGO Train Exhibit. The favorite toy of childhood is used to construct building, landscapes, and of course, lots of trains. Both the young and young-at-heart can view the exhibition through Jan. 14, 2012.

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Santa Claus comes to town at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. After an afternoon of getting hands-on with science, take the kids to indulge in some holiday fun with a screening of Santa vs. the Snowman. Shown in the Fleet’s state-of-the-art IMAX dome theater, this quirky comedy by the creator/producer of Jimmy Neutron features the voice talents of Jonathan Winters, Ben Stein and Victoria Jackson.

The San Diego Natural History Museum

It may not be a holiday exhibition per se, but All That Glitters: The Splendor & Science of Gems & Minerals will definitely makes the season sparkle. On view is a stunning selection of spectacular natural mineral crystals, exquisite jewelry, and works of art, including pieces on loan from the American Museum of Natural History, Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the Smithsonian Institution. You can see these dazzling displays through April 8, 2012.

Guest Blogger

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Darwin

This was a big year for Charles Darwin.  First he was remembered on his 200th birthday, then he went and got a whole genus and newly discovered species named after him, and now, on the 150th anniversary of the publication of his paradigm-shifting book On the Origin of Species, he’s headlining here in town at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa ParkDarwin: Evolution|Revolution, which opened this weekend on November 7, is the most comprehensive exhibition on Darwin and his contribution to science ever assembled.

Darwin's study

Darwin's study - a cozy place to revolutionize science

Exhibiting some of Darwin’s own original artifacts — notebooks, specimens — and re-creating some sights and sounds from his eye-opening voyage aboard HMS Beagle as well as the study and lab he spent 40 years working in, the exhibit tells the story of the life and times of Charles Darwin and how he came to hit upon his big idea [SPOILER ALERT]: natural selection, the theory that explains evolution and one that, 150 years later, remains central to all life sciences.

You’ll get all the primer you need to appreciate this advancement in our understanding of the natural world; no background in biology required.  I’ll let you discover the details for yourself, but you’ll find that, for such a big idea, natural selection isn’t very difficult to follow; certainly not compared to other great scientific theories we could mention . . . relatively speaking.  In fact, you’ll learn that many of Darwin’s peers were slapping their foreheads and saying, “Why didn’t I think of it first?”  And some almost did.  It was only a matter of time before someone would drop that bomb on science, and if it hadn’t been Darwin’s theory, it would eventually have been someone else’s.  But it’s a good thing it was Darwin who sent the memo because he was also a gifted interpreter of science; expressive and concise, like his new exhibit.  He would have turned in the best blogs here.

In the exhibition

Photos courtesy of San Diego Natural History Museum

The exhibit is filled with artifacts and displays that put you in Darwin’s world, but it also uses modern-day tools to bring it all home for us – looping videos of scientists giving perspective on the subject and interactive computer stations demonstrating basic principles of biology and evolution that even a 3½-year-old can grasp.  I know because I was accompanied by a 3½-year-old who spent half the time separating vertebrates from invertebrates on the touchscreen and, after helping some virtual bugs adapt to their changing environment, he explained to me, “If a bird can’t see a bug, then he can’t eat it.”  My boy.  He’s catching on.

I promise you that if you can read this blog post, you’ll get even more out of Darwin than he did and, like me, you might come away looking at the world with more wonder and appreciation.

Of his theory, Darwin said, “There is grandeur in this view of life.”  You said it, Chuck.

Children and iguana

This one's live!

For those of us left wanting more, Darwin: Evolution|Revolution is complimented by public programs, including lectures by experts in evolutionary science and even overnight camp-ins for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, among other extra credit events, as the museum works overtime to promote public understanding of the natural world.

I was interested to learn that the San Diego Natural History Museum, now in its 135th year, is the second-oldest scientific institution in California.

San Diego, you continue to surprise me.

With distinguished major exhibits like Body Worlds and The Dead Sea Scrolls under its belt, the San Diego Natural History Museum outdoes itself by bringing another outstanding and illuminating exhibit to town.

Darwin will be around until his 201st birthday in February, and I highly recommend paying him a visit.  See the website for prices and hours as well as related public programs.  And why not take a walk down the prado to the San Diego Museum of Man and take a look at some of the discoveries Darwin’s theory predicted?