Recently, an annual San Diego event afforded locals and travelers alike a sneak-peak into what is to become the Comic-Con Museum.
The San Diego Maker Faire has been held in historic Balboa Park since 2015, with its humble beginnings in the area of Del Mar a couple years before that. As their website states, “Maker Faire San Diego is a hands-on festival of invention and creativity and a celebration of the Maker movement in our binational region.” During the event weekend, a number of the various museums that line the park proper play host to special exhibits, vendors, and special guests.
Despite not even having an official opening date planned, the former Hall of Champions Sports Museum and the future home of the Comic-Con Museum opened its doors for the first time to the public for the Maker Faire weekend.
Outside, the façade of the Comic-Con Museum (also known as the Federal Building) is so far largely unchanged, save for the removal of the bygone Hall of Champions’ name, though still visible due to decades of sun and weather. In preliminary sketches of the Comic-Con Museum, it appears there will be only minor changes to the exterior, such as a large three-dimensional sign utilizing the now iconic Comic-Con logo first designed by Richard Bruning. For Maker Faire weekend, a large sculpture and two Jeeps that looked almost as if they had just driven right out of Jurassic Park were arranged on the lawn.
Just like the exterior, the inside of the museum has been barely touched. Though most signs of it once being a sports museum had been removed, the center of the large, open space just beyond the entryway still features the basketball/gymnasium flooring and an emblem saying, “San Diego Hall of Champions: Est. 1961.” Though it is yet unknown whether the flooring will be redone or just removed altogether, word is the metal bridge that crosses the entryway and creates a connected loop for the second story may be entirely removed.
It is perhaps a good thing that the space is still bare, for it afforded plenty of room for the various vendors, exhibitors, and first time Comic-Con Museum visitors. Some local notables in attendance were: Little Fish Comic Book Studio, headed by Founder and Executive Director Alonso Nunez; San Diego Sabers, “San Diego’s premier Lightsaber Training Combat group” as their website states, and co-founded by InterGalactiCon’s Steve “Captain” Kirk; and others.
Indeed, it appears museum organizers and staff are still figuring out what sort of exhibits and educational services they will feature. In the basement level of the building where there’s an enclosed theatre and even more open exhibition space, there were signs asking for Maker Faire attendees to weigh in on matters anywhere from What Comic-Themed Food and Beverages Should the Museum Serve to What Exhibits Would You Like to See? This was similarly done during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, using the same method of answering by writing on a sticky-note and posting it for others to see.
I can understand why Comic-Con Museum executives are seeking advice from the public at large on what content should be showcased. The Federal Building has just so much room. The main floor is one large open space with a conference room to the left of the main entrance and a café space to the right. Below, there is the theatre, a small conference room, and even more open possible exhibition space that was used as storage by the previous Hall of Champions. And on the second level, there is yet another conference room, a couple dozen offices, and yet another large room with natural window lighting that could be used for just about anything. A lot of space.
Even with seemingly no concrete ideas for what the Comic-Con Museum will feature, organizing are already taking advance charter memberships. From what they were advertising at the main entrance, there are currently nine different tiers of membership, each one with different perks and prices.
Even with Maker Faire throwing the doors open to the museum for one weekend, a lot is still yet unknown about what the space will feature and what connection to the community it will have. Two things are so far for certain: Firstly, this is only the beginning of special events being held before the museum opens. On November the 3rd, Comic-Con will present the one-day Storytelling Across Media symposium, geared for aspiring creators and professionals interested in the art of storytelling. Some notable guests will be Jim Lee, Shawna and Julie Benson, Greg Van Eekhout, and others. Secondly, the opening of the Comic-Con Museum does in no way ensure that Comic-Con itself will stay in San Diego. The city will always be home to Comic-Con International, but whether the world-renowned convention will remain here as well is still an unknown.
In the meantime, what are some topics and exhibitions you would love to see explored at the Comic-Con Museum?
Nicholas Eskey is an avid reader and writer. When not contributing to The Beat, he works on his personal projects, the latest being a fantasy novel called “My Personable Demon.” He lives in San Diego, California, and is frequently bossed around by his cat.