Whether it is learning about one’s ancestors or learning to appreciate other cultures, the International Cottages of the House of Pacific Relations has it all. The cottages are located in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The goal of the HPR is to “further the pursuit of ‘pacific’ or peaceful relations among nations”.
Each house represented in the International Cottages displays cultural information and items relevant to their country. It is a great way to get a taste of a culture. On Saturdays and Sundays, the cottages are open from 11am to 4 pm. Visitors can view the cottages and on Sundays can enjoy refreshments from the culture (donations are welcome). Some cottages also provide refreshments on Saturdays as well.
Houses also put on performances at the stage. This may include music, dancing, singing, etc… Annual special events include an Ethnic Food Fair, and the International Christmas Festival celebrated at the Park’s December Nights. During these annual events, all the cottages are opened and ethnic food is available for purchase.
The HPR is a non-profit organization. Anyone can become a member to one of the houses. Many people who grew up in a country and then moved to the United States will join to stay connected to their culture and share it with others. A membership application/fee is required as well as volunteering at the house of choice. This is a great way to use a language with (in many cases) native speakers of the country. Each house has their own functions. In some, there a choirs to join or language courses. Some get together for coffee and to talk. Holidays are also celebrated with special functions just for members.
The HPR also has a Queens Organization. This is for young members of the houses. A Queen and Princesses can serve from each house. The Queens act as ambassadors for their house and preform cultural dances and do charitable work throughout the community. “The HPR Queens Organization fosters a spirit of understanding, tolerance and goodwill between all races and nationalities, and prepares its members to be adult members of their Houses.”
Visiting Balboa Park’s International Cottages is a great way to spend an afternoon and learn about different cultures. An excellent way to introduce young children to many different cultures at once. For more information visit: http://www.sdhpr.org/aboutus.html
The Timken Museum of Art located in San Diego California’s Balboa Park is an often overlooked gem. While the museum is small, it has much to offer. Perhaps best of all, it is free!
The museum houses a permanent collection and has one gallery dedicated to traveling exhibits. Right now, for instance, the fall exhibition is Masterpieces of Italian Drawings from The British Museum. This exhibition will be up through December 15, 2019. The museum does a wonderful job in creating new exhibits for the space. Often music will accompany an exhibit in the special exhibit. I must also say that the museum staff is always friendly and the guards are some of the most professional I have seen. They truly keep an eye on the guests making sure the art is safe.
Upon arrival guests are greeted by staff and walk past huge tapestries on the walls by Antoine Caron. There is a wonderful open space with comfortable seating. During the holidays, this space is transformed into a Holiday Installation displaying the Jewels of the Season, the ornate ornaments designed by San Diego artists Florence Hord and Elizabeth Schlappi. To the right and left are galleries with the museum collection. To the right is the traveling exhibition. A small gift shop is located at the entry/exit.
The museum offers tours and lectures. The lectures are held in a gallery space with chairs set up, a speaker, and screen. I have attended a couple of the lectures and they have been popular. Come early for a good seat. Sometimes tickets must be purchased for special lectures or music events but many lectures are free. The museum also offers trips to other museums such as the J. Paul Getty. All information can be found on the museum website.
The Timken Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 4:30 pm and Sunday 12 pm – 4:30 pm (Closed Monday). Can’t make it to the Timken in person? Take a virtual tour or view the collection on-line at http://www.timkenmuseum.org .
While visiting Balboa Park in San Diego, CA, do not forget to cross the foot bridge to The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden. The foot bridge allows one to cross over Park Blvd and is located between the Natural History Museum and the nearby fountain. The rose garden is in bloom from March through December. April and May will find the garden in peak season. There are more than 130 varieties to entice rose lovers. This is a great garden to stroll and enjoy the many varieties of roses. Benches and a covered structure for shade also make this garden enjoyable for a leisurely outing. Be sure to bring a camera as the flowers make for beautiful pictures and a splendid backdrop to family portraits as well. The garden has won many awards over the years and is a lovely place to visit while at Balboa Park.
The Botanical Building in Balboa Park (San Diego, CA) was built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition. Inside the building one can see collections of cycads, ferns, orchids, tropical plants and palms. Summer is a great time to visit the Botanical Building as many of the plants will be in full bloom. Outside the building is the beautiful Lily Pond. Koi fish and ducks can be seen swimming among the lily pads. There are usually a musician or two playing outside the building adding to the atmosphere and hoping for a few coins tossed their way. The site in front of the Lily Pond looking at the Botanical Building is one of the most photographed places in the park. One can see why as the splendor of one of the largest lath structures in the world is reflected into the water of the colorful Lily Pond.
The Spanish Village Art Center is located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. It is an art collective where members can create and sell their work. Artists can become members in the collective and share studios at the center. The studios are like a little village, each having a welcoming colorful door. It is a good place to catch artists at work and also be able to purchase original art from local artists. Woodworking, painting, collage, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, glass, tile, greeting cards, enamel, gourds, etc… can be found at the Spanish Village Art Center. The different art guilds also hold sales in the center at different times throughout the year. This is a super place to go for original art and gifts for family and friends. They are open seven days a week from 11 am to 4 pm.