Credit: Scott Bennion / Museum of Us
If you think about Balboa Park like crown, its museums are the crown jewels. Among them is the Us museum, formerly known as Museum Of Man. After months of closure, the museum reopened to visitors on Wednesday.
“It’s so wonderful to see this building come back to life with people,” said James Haddan, senior director of development and external communications for the museum.
The crowd was light on reopening day, but the people we spoke to were delighted to be there.
“I think it’s super exciting to be able to come and see stuff like that. I think Balboa Park itself is such a big part of the San Diego community so I think it’s really exciting for people traveling or even just San Diegans to come back and enjoy again of the benefits of their community, ”said San Diegan Cassie Hauck.
During the pandemic shutdown, many museums in the park took the time to do the kind of maintenance that is difficult to do when it is crowded.
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There too, they took the time to do something else: think about the issue of pay equity.
“People who meet the public every day have traditionally been paid much less than administrative staff,” Haddan said.
Some of these people had to be laid off, but now they’re being rehired, with a big difference.
“We hired them at a starting salary of $ 20 an hour, so a living wage on top of that for our front-line staff,” Haddan said.
The pandemic has brought changes big and small to every museum in Balboa Park. At the Museum Of Us, he accelerated the calculation the museum has embarked upon in recent years with its ties to European colonialism, starting with the front facade.
Haddan says they worked with Google’s Arts & Culture website to present a more inclusive image of the facade, which features a number of European colonizers.
“It is often not shown from a Native American point of view, it is shown from a European point of view,” he said.
Finally, there’s the museum’s name change – in the works before the pandemic hit. From “the man” to “us,” the museum said the change better reflects its work on equity, inclusion and decolonization.
The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm; another welcome step on the path to life in the post-pandemic world.
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