LIFE

Living with Animals is a whimsical exhibit

Sprinkled throughout the exhibit are animal-themed objects including a beautifully hand-painted ceramic feline whistle from AD 1500-1600. (courtesy of San Diego Museum of Man)

Living with Animals is a whimsical exhibit

More than 15,000 years ago humans began sharing their meals with wolves, forging the first friendship between humans and animals, but where did we go from there? The San Diego Museum of Man’s exhibit, Living with Animals, explores the complex and dynamic relationships between humans and animals over time and across cultures.

Dance Earrings
These Peruvian insect dance earrings are made of real beetle shells and toucan feathers. (courtesy of San Diego Museum of Man)

“There’s opportunity and challenges in tackling a topic like animals, but we’ve created an exhibit that feels fresh both in its whimsical, vibrant design and in its non-traditional approach to storytelling,” said exhibit developer Sarah Crawford. “Living with Animals looks at the animals we encounter every day in our lives and homes — our beloved pets, the pests crawling through our walls, and the side of bacon we put on our plates — and asks how we decide which of these categories they belong in.”

When designing Living with Animals, the museum focused on creating an immersive, exploratory experience that encourages visitors to think about how they interact with animals, even beyond the exhibit’s walls.

“Living with Animals allows visitors to explore specific types of interaction between people and animals. I believe these interactions speak directly to the museum’s vision of reflecting on our place in the world,” said Director of Exhibits Erika Katayama. “One particular area of the exhibit invites the community to reflect on the question, ‘How can I live better with animals?’”

Sprinkled throughout the exhibit are animal-themed objects from the museum’s vast collection. These objects include Peruvian insect dance earrings that are made of real beetle shells and toucan feathers, and a beautifully hand-painted ceramic feline whistle from AD 1500-1600.

Motif
The physical gallery space that houses Living with Animals has been transformed into an animal motif. (photo Stacy Keck)

In order to create this interactive exhibit, the physical gallery space that houses Living with Animals has been completely transformed. Where linear walls and traditional text panels once stood in a former exhibit, there are now curved walls and pathways, tactical elements that encourage hands-on learning, information in unexpected ways. The new design also incorporates architectural elements that had been covered for almost two decades, including historic windows overlooking El Prado.

Visitors can experience this exhibit between 10 a.m. and p.m. daily. The San Diego Museum of Man is located at 1350 El Prado in Balboa Park. Visit here.

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