Oakland Museum of California reopens exhibits


It has transformed with bright new spaces, new technology, a revival, and a re-envisioning of the state. The collections were reinstalled and integrated to give a better perspective of California history. This museum has a unique place.

"It's the amazing story of the cultural history of California and the natural environment," said executive director of the museum, Lori Fogarty. "We've organized this gallery thematically around California lands, California people, and creativity so that people, whether they know a lot or a little about California art, they can understand what makes California art really unique."

California artists, modern and past, share their interpretations of the state changes and at the entrance is a new commissioned work.

"This is a San Francisco artist named Barry Magee. He started out in the Mission District. He was a graffiti artist at his roots, but he's now collected and presented in exhibitions and museums all over the world," says Fogarty.

Everyone has to start somewhere. This is a wall of portraits. Paintings and photographs with one blank space aspiring artists can create a video vision of themselves. Two former outdoor areas have been enclosed.

"Two new spaces that are bright, sky-lit with high ceilings where we can show large scale contemporary work," says Fogarty.

Most of the new look is inside. There has been minimal change to the exterior because when it opened in 1969, this building was considered a landmark of museum architecture. The project cost $58 million. Oakland voters approved a $23.6 million bond measure and the rest of the money has come from donations.

The museum will reopen on Saturday and stay open continuously for 31 hours with a variety of programs to commemorate California -- the 31st state.

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