Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma. Staff photo

It’s a conundrum. Some monuments, no matter how important to American history, hold the power to offend. How should scholars and curators respond?

A group of experts brought together by World Heritage USA, and its western chapter, along with the San Diego History Center, will gather to discuss challenges surrounding the sometimes controversial structures – such as the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma – at an upcoming free panel.

The program, part of a bi-coastal series entitled “Monuments Summer: A Season of Dialogue,” will be held at 1 p.m. on Aug. 18 at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

Though the event is free, tickets are required as space is limited. Register on Eventbrite

Experts will offer their thoughts on the legacy of the Cabrillo monument – it honors Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, whose legacy has come under scrutiny in recent years – while including perspectives from the Kumeyaay Nation.

The role of museums as stewards of controversial monuments also will be covered, along with spaces that are taking modern approaches to preserving and honoring history.

The panelists are:

  • Bill Lawrence – executive director, San Diego History Center
  • Ethan Banegas – historian, the history center; lecturer, San Diego State University
  • Jason Hanson – chief creative officer and director of interpretation and research, History Colorado in Denver
  • Dr. Amy Gilman – director, Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wis.

Doug Comer, president of World Heritage USA, said the organization hopes “to engage yet another community in inspiring dialogues about controversial sites and how to grapple with our past.”

“World Heritage USA is excited to bring the ‘Monuments Summer’ series to San Diego to discuss the importance of acknowledging and examining the history that surrounds public monuments across the nation and specifically on the West Coast,” he said.