Current Exhibitions

San Diego History Center

Celebrate San Diego! The History & Heritage of San Diego’s Jewish Community

March 12, 2017 – January, 2018

An exhibition that chronicles the history of San Diego’s Jewish community beginning with pioneers who arrived in 1850 looking for adventure, good weather, better health, and, above all, the opportunity to make the American dream their own, to the thriving community it is today.

Art & Heritage,Three San Diego Jewish Artists: Baranceanu,Braun, & Sternberg

January 28, – July 2017

Art & Heritage, Three San Diego Jewish Artists: Baranceanu, Braun & Sternberg explores the artwork, lives, and Jewish heritage of three historically-important San Diego artists: Belle Baranceanu, Maurice Braun, and Harry Sternberg.

Raised in Jewish households Belle Baranceanu, Maurice Braun, and Harry Sternberg, are bound by this commonality, yet each embodies a uniquely personal artistic path and divergent experiences within the Jewish faith.

The Lore Behind the Roar! 100 Years of the San DIego Zoo

March 20, 2016 – May 29, 2017

In collaboration with the San Diego Zoo, this celebration of the Zoo’s centennial explores its evolution to the World-Famous San Diego Zoo, San Diego’s largest cultural institution and one of the world’s great zoological institutions, with over five million visitors a year. LORE explores the Zoo’s contributions to popular culture, to San Diego and to the animal world, from the pioneering concept of cage-less animals to the high-tech Frozen Zoo.

The Jewel of San Diego


Featuring stunning aerial vistas juxtaposed with historic images, this documentary film provides an introduction to Balboa Park for visitors. Using state-of-the-art motion graphics, three-dimensional mapping, an original sound track and photomontages, the 30-minute capsule history explores the Park from the heights of the California Tower to underground museum collections – an unforgettable visual experience.


September 23, 2016 – June, 2017

The History Center is the hub of a collaborative exhibition on San Diego architect Irving J. Gill (1870-1936), a founder of modern architecture. Gill influenced generations of American architects and builders.  His revolutionary ideas on building aesthetics and technology permanently impacted the building arts. This exhibition traces Gill’s life and work from New York to Chicago and finally to California where he developed his vision of a new architecture —modernism.

Part of the Patchwork: Reflections of African-American Life in the History Center Archives

March – December, 2017

Inspired by the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and as a Smithsonian affiliate, the San Diego History Center looked to its own archives to see what stories of African-American life in our region could be uncovered. The photographs, documents, and oral histories displayed here are the result of that investigation. With all its nuance and complexity, telling a full and comprehensive story of the African-American community is a monumental task for any archives or collection. This means that the story presented here is incomplete. For the San Diego History Center, the work of collecting our region’s history—and especially that of underrepresented cultures and communities—remains a cornerstone of our mission yet is also a work in progress. The snapshot you see here is evidence of progress but there is much more work to be done.

Permanent Exhibition at the

San Diego History Center
in the Heart of Balboa Park

Place of Promise

Place of Promise

This permanent exhibition showcases San Diego history from 10,000 BCE up to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The San Diego region has been home to native peoples like the Kumeyaay for thousands of years; they lived in complex societies and established trade with other tribes. Since Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s European contact in 1542, San Diego has undergone extensive transformations as the Spanish, Mexican and American cultures have all shaped our region.

Inside | OUT

A permanently exhibited, rotating display of rarely-seen items from the San Diego History Center archives.

Inside|OUT is the San Diego History Center’s newest permanent exhibition located in our central atrium and brings objects, photographs, and documents from the archives to the exhibition floor! Inside|OUT is a large lighted display unit with 16 cases of different sizes and will be curated internally by collections staff and feature a rotating inventory of items that are rarely displayed in the museum.

Permanent Exhibition at the

Junípero Serra Museum


Survival & Transformation:
San Diego’s Journey


This exhibition showcases San Diego’s cultural influences from indigenous Kumeyaay to the Spanish, Mexican and early American settlers. Displays focus on early challenges with natural resources, trade and development, and the role archaeology has played in uncovering San Diego’s buried past. Climb the tower to experience the San Diego of 1929. See spectacular views from multiple directions and contrast them with historic vantage points from the History Center’s photograph collection.

Special Exhibition Hosted by

Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego (JAHSSD)

The Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego Gallery is located at the San Diego History Center.

Current exhibitions: A Disappearing Breed: Japanese Gardeners in San Diego 

February – May 2017

This exhibition points out the differences between pre-war and post-war Japanese gardeners in San Diego. It is dedicated to all those who worked with their hands, who founded related businesses that helped everyone succeed, and who developed leadership skills as the profession of landscape gardening developed.

Previous exhibitions: Only the Oaks Remains: The Story of the Tuna Canyon Detention Center