Skateboard Ramps at San Diego Museum of Man!

Now through September 9th, the Smithsonian Institution is setting up shop in San Diego’s Museum of Man for the Ramp It Up exhibit, which explores skateboard culture in Native American and Hawaiian communities. The exhibit comes with its own half pipe mini-ramp which anyone can skate – all included with museum admission! Smart Destinations travelers will know that admission to the Museum of Man comes with our Go San Diego Card, so the Museum's temporary half-pipe is an exciting and completely free add-on to the already extensive list of San Diego attractions. For those who don't skateboard, the exhibit also offers unique images, videos, and over twenty skate decks created by Native American artists. This is the exhibit's first time outside of the Smithsonian, and it's time in San Diego is limited - Ramp It Up will continue on to California, Pennsylvania on September 9th. Here's a look at why the exhibit is an important one to visit, and what there is to see while there's still time:

Skateboarding and Native American Culture

The Smithsonian puts it best when describing the intersection of skateboard and Native American cultures: “Skate culture is a great lens to learn about both traditional and contemporary Native American culture,” said Betsy Gordon, curator of “Ramp It Up.” “This exhibition not only showcases the Native skater but also the Native elders, parents, government officials and community activists who have encouraged their kids to skate.” The skateboard itself, popular in the United States since the 1960s, began as a way for Native Hawaiian to surf without the waves. Over time, the sport's popularity spread to Native American communities and reservations and the world at large. Today, skateboarding is a five-billion-dollar industry that includes everything from shoes and apparel to camps, competitions, music tours and more. In Native American communities, the sport's also inspired entrepreneurship and a hard work ethic, according to the Museum of Man; this is seen in the rise of Native American owned skateboard companies as well as the number of Native artists and filmmakers who take their inspiration from skateboarding.
4-Wheel Warpony founded by award-winning filmmaker Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo), who got his start making skateboarding videos in Arizona.

The Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit

So what's in the exhibit exactly? For one, there's stunning visual artwork by artists Bunky Echo-Hawk, Joe Yazzie, Traci Rabbit, and others from such Native American nations as Cherokee and Navajo. Accompanying this artwork is never-before-seen images and film centering on traditional Native American imagery interpreted by skateboard culture. There's even home video footage of Zephyr surf team members from all the way back in 1973, and skate decks created by Native American artists on display for the public. Get an even better idea of the exhibit by watching this short YouTube video by the Smithsonian Institution which will introduce you to an artist from New Mexico whose artwork is displayed in the Ramp It Up exhibit.

Image of Handrail, And, of course, the Half Pipe Mini Ramp

As part of the Ramp It Up exhibit, the Museum of Man and the Smithsonian Institution are inviting all experienced skaters to enjoy the half pipe mini-ramp on special skating days through September. In order to skate, all you'll need is a helmet and a signed waiver that's available at the Museum. It looks like the ramp will be open every Friday in June from 1:00pm-4:30pm, but you should check the Museum's schedule and regulations for full info. Again, the exhibit will be leaving the Museum on September 9th, so start making travel plans now so you don't miss out!
Love this article? Why not share it:

Buy with confidence

Free cancellation

Plans can change, we get it. All non-activated passes are eligible for a refund within 90 days from your purchase date.

Find out more


Confused? We're here to help!

See our FAQs

We're kind of popular, but don't just take our word for it.

Have a 5% discount, on us!

Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts, trip inspiration and attraction updates straight to your inbox.

  • Thick check Icon