Current Exhibitions

San Diego History Center

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 vibrant family-friendly exhibition celebrates the Zoo’s centennial, telling the amazing story from its humble origins to its evolution as a world-famous zoo and conservation leader.


September 23, 2016 – March 26, 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.

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. Calendar


September 9, 2016 – January 29, 2017

Animal Aesthetics: Decades of Design at the San Diego Zoo pays tribute to the Zoo’s design department and the impact it has had on the Zoo, and San Diego, over the past five decades.

https://www.sandiegohistory.org/border/THE BORDER: A Line that Divides

Through January 15, 2017
This photographic exhibition explores the evolution of the San Ysidro border crossing. Two border towns—Tijuana and San Diego—bestride the world’s busiest land-border. The San Ysidro Port of Entry has grown in size, scope and traffic since the 1848 treaty establishing the 1,954-mile border. Today, the border has become a militarized, high-security crossing handling millions of travelers and tons of freight each year and over 400,000 vehicle crossings weekly.

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.

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.

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.