Wednesday, November 28, 2012

San Diego-Day 2: Balboa Park

Balboa Park is easily one of the best attractions in San Diego. It has a little something for everybody. 14 museums, parks, 19 gardens, gigantic zoo, tennis courts, gym, theatre, shows, restaurants and more. Since V and I are both museum lovers, I decided to allocate an entire day to explore the park. It was a tough call to choose from so many museums. We finally picked 5 and armed with a map of the park in hand, we began our journey. 

It being a Friday, gave us some more time as some museums operate longer on Fridays. The five museums we visited were:
Museum of Man

Mayan Statue
Mummy coffins
A beautiful display of exhibits that trace the journey of man. Right from replica of fossils of the early man to the Maya statues and modern photographs. My favorite part was the Anthropology section that showed the evolution of man. The changes in the brain, bones, teeth etc over time from monkeys and apes to modern man. It was amazing to see all the stuff that we learnt in history. Only this time, instead of text books, it was more of visual learning. I also saw mummies-real Egyptian mummies. They are truly fascinating. 

I would have loved to spend more time here but we had other museums to cover so had to limit ourselves to only an hour at each place. 

Evolution of Man Exhibits

2. San Diego Air and Space museum:

Aircraft used during World War II
The receptionist at the previous museum recommended that we check out this one. Although, neither of us was too keen on visiting it, we decided to go as she made it sound very exciting. This museum houses all the planes that were used during the world wars. It also has flags, clothes etc used by the astronauts who went to the moon. To some one who is interested in this subject, this would be a wonderful place but to me it was quite boring. The only fun part of this one was the 4-D theatre.  Three five-minute movies were played and the 4-D effect was mind-blowing. I would visit this museum again only for the 4-D show.

I have no words to express what I felt at this museum. I was stunned to see the collection by Ruud Van Empel. Each work was a result of stitching together several different photographs together. I was surprised to find out that every individual represented in the pictures was put together using features from many different people. There was a haunting quality in each of his works-almost surreal yet piercing. Fabricated reality-that was the term used to describe his works. Photography was not allowed inside the museum so could not click any.

An interactive science center that has numerous exhibits that allows one to learn the different science phenomenon. Interesting, educative and fun. I'm sure my relationship with physics wouldn't have been so bad had I got a chance to learn it in an interactive way like the science center. All the models were thought provoking and had detailed info about the phenomenon it described. However, the place was crowded with children who were more interested in playing with the models rather than learning anything. It was quite sad that most parents too didn't try to use the exhibits as a learning tool and let the children use them as toys. The best part about this museum is the dome shaped IMAX theatre. We opted to watch the movie 'To The Artic'. The theatre is like a planetarium-the screen stretches from the ceiling all the way down to the floor. The movie depicted the sad state of the polar bear due to the melting of the arctic snow caps as a result of global warming. It was an irony that it was both touching and beautiful at the same time. 

The last museum for the day. We only had 40 minutes to explore this one before it was closing time. There are several galleries for Asian, African, American, European and Modern Art. Since we were pressed for time, we chose the European section. We walked through the Renaissance, Impressionist, Post-impressionism paintings from Italy, France and Germany. V explained to me how the themes and art evolved during each of the periods. It was quite overwhelming to see paintings that were so old yet were magnificent.

Overall, the visit was very informative and fun at the same time. I would definitely recommend keeping an entire day for this activity. A day well-spent!

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