Text and photography by Emma Krasov
31 years in existence in a landmark mid-century modern building, now fully renovated and expanded, Oakland Museum of California opens its doors for 31 hours free to the public to celebrate the cultures and creativity of the 31st state. This weekend, May 1 and 2 the “museum for the people” reopens with Art and History Galleries fully reinstalled, and presenting a number of new acquisitions.
The most dynamic, diverse, multicultural, and therefore the most creative “California nation,” (go ahead, correct me if I am wrong) is presented in newly-installed displays on California’s land, its people, and their creativity.
The Gallery of California Art showcases more than 800 works from the permanent collection, including Gold Rush era daguerreotypes, photography by group f64, Dorothea Lange, Bay Area Figurative, California artists Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, Ed Ruscha, Mel Ramos, and others, and the Nash Collection ceramics by Robert Arneson, Viola Frey, and Peter Voulkos.
Shaped and developed by consecutive waves of immigration, California history is reflected not only in its art, but also in OMCA’s innovative installations. An oil painting by Henry Raschen, California Miner with Pack Horse, from 1887 is displayed against a wall of gold.
High up on a white wall in the next gallery, there is a ticking and moving (in more than one sense) work by a Bay Area artist Paul Kos, made of 15 cuckoo clocks with hammers and sickles for weights, called Just a Matter of Time, and created in 1990 with a prophetic reference to 15 Soviet republics in the former USSR on the verge of its ultimate collapse.
A reinforced emphasis on visitor participation in the galleries includes visitor-generated content; first-person narrative labels; flexible displays that will change with current events and public feedback; and multilingual wall text that explains curatorial choices and decision-making.
The $62.2 million renovation project implemented by Mark Cavagnero Associates architectural firm also includes a transformed Natural Sciences Gallery to be open in 2012.
This weekend, 31 hours of continuous free public programs will officially launch the reopening of OMCA, beginning at 11 am on Saturday, and ending at 6 pm on Sunday. OMCA is located at 1000 Oak Street Oakland. More information: 510-238-2200 or at: museumca.org.