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Inside the San Diego Museum of Man, the dead wait in a locked, climate-controlled room. Known as The Willows, this chamber contains 16,000 bone fragments, skeletons and mummies, the remains of at least 5,000 human beings. For more than a century, these relics were excavated from caves, burial grounds , battlefields and construction sites in Egypt, Peru, Vietnam, India and throughout San Diego County. Inside the museum, they were studied by scientists and gawked at by visitors. Or so they were in the past. Today, The Willows is off-limits to casual observers and researchers alike. Instead, the dead wait while the museum tries to deliver them to their final resting place, home with their ancestors.

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