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Balboa Park Beat

Few modes of transportation can be deemed romantic. Highway traffic is a pain, airplane travel is god-awful, and let’s not get into the Segways that plague the sidewalks of Balboa Park.

But the steam locomotive? It’s extraordinary.

A new film opening at the Reuben H. Fleet’s Heikoff Dome Theatre called “Rocky Mountain Express” blends IMAX aerial cinematography, archival photographs, and maps to tell the story of the building of Canada’s first transcontinental railway. It offers beautiful views of the Canadian Rockies as the camera follows the journey of the Empress, a steam train built in 1930 and now operated by the Canada Pacific Railway.

Train view

During a recent visit to the Fleet, producer Pietro Serapiglia explained that it wasn’t an easy effort. Compared to the flashier topics he and filmmaker Stephen Low have covered through IMAX (like their 1993 film “Titanica” about the world’s most famous ship) the train-based journey through Canada was a more difficult story pitch to potential funders.

“It took five years to make the film because we had to use our own funds. We’d sell other films and make some money on distribution. We slowly made the film because we didn’t want to take the big risk immediately,” Serapiglia said. “But we got it made.”

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Lowrider cars have long been a part of southern California’s history. These iconic cars have been making heads turn since the 1930’s. Now, visitors can experience a piece of this car culture at the San Diego Automotive Museum’s new exhibit “Lowrider Legends of San Diego.”

A lowrider car is an automobile with a lowered suspension designed to drive inches from the ground. Early lowrider cars were a part of the Mexican-American zoot suit fashion. Back then, they hid sand bags in their trunks to achieve the stylish low-to-the-floor look.

Lowrider Legends Car Exhibit San Diego Automotive Museum

Pickup with serious modifications


Truck with custom airbursh work 

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Scorpions that glow! Millipedes that secrete cyanide from their skin! Bugs that disappear into their surroundings, right before your eyes!

The newest exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum is an "ewww"-inducing spectacle under colorful circus flags. Opening on Friday, February 22, the traveling circus sideshow, “Dr. Entomo’s Palace of Exotic Wonders,” has theatrical bug displays alongside cases of live bugs like hissing cockroaches, scorpions, and giant mealworms. An adjacent exhibit created in-house by staff of theNAT’s Department of Entomology features unusual butterflies, spiders, and other specimens from the San Diego region. 

While parents may find the upstairs exhibitions on chocolate and nature photography a little more palatable, “Dr. Entomo’s” is geared to little ones; several of the cases are kid’s-eye level and designed to spark curiosity about the most bizarre insects among us.

From March 10 to June 2, theNAT will host “Six-Legged Sundays” with meet-and-greets with museum entomologists, screenings of films like “A Bug’s Life” and other family activities.

Dr. Entomos

Welcome to Dr. Entomo's

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Today, February 15, the San Diego Air & Space Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary of opening to the public. SDASM released its guidebook, Celebrating: a History of the Museum and its Collections.

SDASM first opened on February 15, 1963 in Balboa Park’s Food and Beverage Building. SDASM then moved into the nearby Electric Building in 1965, where it remained until 1978, when a fire destroyed the museum and its contents. The board, staff, and members, with strong support from the community, immediately began to rebuild and moved SDASM into the historic Ford Building in 1980, where it resides today.

Historic Photos of SDASM & the Ford Building

SDASM history

Ford Building under construction

SDASM history

Pre-Air & Space Museum exhibit in the Ford Building

SDASM history

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On Friday, The San Diego Museum of Art’s Executive Director Roxana Velasquez wielded giant scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon to the new permanent gallery “Art of East Asia.” The Museum has been aquiring pieces for this collection for almost 90 years and it is now open to the public. The gallery contains more than 280 works of Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, making up nearly half the total number of pieces in the Museum.

Not only are the unique items exquisite, but the design of the showroom by Staples & Charles also proved to be a true work of art. I could see and feel the amount of passion that was put into this project as Velasquez, the institution’s former Curator of Asian Art Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, and designers Robert Staples and Barbara Fahs Charles led us through the gallery.

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