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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, The Horse exhibition, San Diego Natural History MuseumI’m happy to report that the New Year not only rings in new chew toys for yours truly, but also, for my bipedal readers, new exhibitions at Balboa Park’s various museums. However, in order to make way for them, we must bark farewell to some old favorites (though, I still haven’t figured out what happens to my old chew toys).

As I blogged about last week, 2012 was a particularly doggone good year for exhibitions. How good? As good as an indestructible chew toy (assuming such a thing exists).

Raising our doggie dishes in a toast to “times gone by” (that’s what “auld lang syne” ruffly means — I looked it up), here’s a shortlist of closing exhibitions that shouldn’t be missed:

The Horse (closes Jan. 20) — While I still await a major exhibition on dogs to come to the park, it’s good to see another worthy four-legged mammal get its due in such a comprehensive manner at the Natural History Museum.

Soapbox! The Audience Speaks (closes Jan. 27) — “Speak! Good girl!” I often hear. But what would happen if humans were allowed to express themselves so freely, in a museum context no less, by selecting the objects they want to have on exhibit? Find out at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

Behold, America! (closes Feb 10) — More importantly, “Behold what happens when San Diego’s three most important art museums collaborate on a three-venue exhibition!” (two of them being the Timken Museum of Art and The San Diego Museum of art, of course).

True Blue (closes Feb. 17) — Though dogs have a reputation for colorblindness, thankfully we can still detect the color blue. That enables us to truly appreciate the kinds of objects made in indigo, turquoise, cobalt, and lapis lazuli now on view at the Mingei Museum.

Make sure you don’t miss the next round of exhibitions by keeping at least one eye on the Balboa Park Calendar.

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Since 2012 didn’t end in a bang—literally, I'm happy to now be in a position to reflect on Balboa Park's biggest tail-wagging moments of 2012.

Cosmos Blog, 2012 Year in Review, Behold America exhibition, Eastman JohnsonDoggone Good Exhibitions!

My bipedal correspondents tell me 2012 was an exhibition season like no other. For starters, the year opened with an epic Titanic exhibition at the Natural History Museum. The year also featured an exhibition at the San Diego History Center that gave my favorite food group its just due: Tuna! In addition, Ramp It Up at the Museum of Man provided a fresh perspective on the role of skateboarding in Native American culture.

If you missed any of those, don’t despair. You can still catch some of the year’s other alpha offerings, namely the fun-for-the-whole-pack How Things Fly exhibition at the Air & Space Museum; Behold, America! showcasing the best of what three local art museums have to offer, and the always tastefully tasteless Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

The Year in Photos

The year also witnessed the crowning of Balboa Park’s newest Top Dog, Jedi, in the annual Top Dog Photo Contest, proving once again how much better a photo of Balboa Park looks with a dog in it.

Not to be outdone, pups with cameras showed us how to see the Park through their eyes in the Focus on Balboa Park Photo Contest, which this year was opened up to shutterbugs who still remember when cameras required film (whatever that is).

Family Fun

The past 12 months were filled with more than the usual share of activities fit for the entire brood, anchored by two park-wide family day events: the annual Science Family Day in March and the Halloween Family Day.

There were also sold out showings of Disney’s Peter Pan at the San Diego Junior Theatre, a full slate of summer camps presented by first-class cultural organizations, and dozens of laugh-a-minute shows at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre.

Given that Balboa Park, like the rest of the planet, promises to be around for at least another year, there’s no reason not to expect more of the same in 2013.

Here’s to a Howling Happy New Year!

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Alex writes: Dear Cosmos, my dog Joker chewed up my Xbox controller, so I won’t be able to play any of the new video games I got for Christmas. Since it will take a week for the replacement I ordered online to arrive, this might be a good time to check out Balboa Park, but I’m a total n00b and don’t know where to start.

House of Hospitality, Balboa Park, Visitors CenterCosmos responds: Sounds like Joker was just trying to get you out of your parent’s basement for a few days. lulz

When you arrive in Balboa Park, the first thing you’ll notice after your eyes adjust to the natural sunlight is a lot of Colonial Spanish-looking buildings surrounded by lush green landscaping. Don’t be alarmed! You have not been dropped into a Central American town overrun by cartel mercenaries.

After a little exploring to find your bearings, your first checkpoint will be the Balboa Park Visitors Center (pictured). There a knowledgeable volunteer will give you a brief tutorial on the many museums, gardens, performing arts venues, hiking trails, and other points of interest.

Since some attractions require an entrance fee, I suggest acquiring a Passport to Balboa Park at the Visitors Center for $49 (that’s real U.S. dollars, not in-game credits). This will unlock 14 different museums that you’ll have seven days to visit using the Passport.

Think of Balboa Park as an open world game that you can explore freely however you wish. As you travel on foot from attraction to attraction, note there are many rewarding side quests along the way—including the Botanical Building, Zoro Garden, Alcazar Garden, and Palm Canyon—full of hidden treasures to discover. Be aware that some quests are date and time specific, such as the free concerts in Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Sundays at 2pm.

Though I realize seven days amounts to a rental period for most gamers, you should know that Balboa Park offers a ton of extra content, as new festivals, events, performances, and exhibitions are constantly being added on a rotating basis. So be sure to keep an eye on for announcements regarding new content.

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Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, ZoeZoe writes: Dear Cosmos, it’s that time of year when my house is filled with too many people and noises for me to catch some much-needed zzz’s. What’s the best way to get some peace and quiet?

Cosmos: I’m old enough to remember when houses would often be empty during this season as our human companions would go to the malls, parties at the neighbor’s house, various holiday performances, and even caroling. Now it seems everyone just sits around with their snouts glued to tablets, smart phones, big screen TVs, and other noisy gadgets.

But finding peace and quiet is as important to them as it is to you. Hopefully slipping them the following list of things to do in Balboa Park will be a win-win for everyone. 

Take a Christmas Day Stroll — With almost everything closed on Christmas Day, there probably isn’t a better time of year to enjoy a morning walk through Balboa Park’s historic architecture and year-round gardens. Let’s face it, with Christmas falling on a Tuesday this year, you’ll never find more ample parking on that particular day of the week, when select museums would normally be open for free.

Watch an IMAX Film — One museum you can count on being open on Christmas Day is the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Its current schedule of IMAX films will immerse holiday-weary bipeds in beautiful nature documentaries that transport audiences to the ends of the earth in To the Arctic and follow the spectacular migration of the monarch butterfly in Flight of the Butterflies.

Explore Balboa Park’s Trail System — As the Park’s Central Mesa and the Zoo literally become a “zoo” between Christmas and New Years, you might consider “getting away from it all” by traveling some paths less taken. When was the last time you took your favorite four-legged friend along the Bridle Path under the Cabrillo Bridge, explored the entire length of Gold Gulch, or hiked the rugged terrain of Florida Canyon’s east slopes?

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I know some readers worry their pups may tear the house apart if they don’t give them something more active to do while they are on vacation from obedience training (aka: school) over the next few weeks.

Whether it’s raining cats and dogs or bright and sunny outside, Balboa Park always has you covered. For instance, most of the family programs museums regularly host will continue through this month, some offering special holiday gift-making opportunities.

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Family Drop In Day, San Diego Museum of Art, child drawingCrafty Sundays at the Museum of Photographic Arts this Sunday, December 16, will give local residents looking for a white Christmas a chance to create their own Photo Snow Globes. While there, families can also experience the world from a half-pint’s perspective in MoPA’s seventh annual youth exhibition.

Speaking of half-pints, the San Diego History Center’s History for Half-Pints program this Monday, December 17, will feature “Poinsettias and Piñatas.” While learning about San Diego’s connection to these festive traditions, participants will create a poinsettia craft and enjoy a piñata party (reservations required).

The Mingei International Museum’s Family Sunday program highlights the joy of music this Sunday, December 16. All guests will be treated to a holiday performance by the Girls Scouts Glee Chorus (1:30pm), and you can also Make Your Own Kind of Music, in conjunction with the exhibition by that name, by decorating a handmade bell to take home.

Lastly, The San Diego Museum of Art’s Family Drop-In Day, this Sunday, December 16, will be “Exploring Line,” as in decorative and elegant calligraphic lines. The hands-on calligraphy project will give pups a great opportunity to create a gift that promises to be refrigerator door worthy.

Families also looking to take in a holiday-themed show in Balboa Park should check out my Best Bets for the season.

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