Thanks to voter support and early generosity from leading philanthropists, the Oakland Museum of California’s renovation project is underway on schedule and with substantial momentum.
“The renovation will transform the galleries, better integrate our art, history, and natural sciences collections, and improve the visitor experience,” said Lori Fogarty, executive director since early 2006. “We’re creating a more engaging, accessible museum, with larger galleries and more interactive features.”
To date, the campaign—Start Here: The Museum of California—has surpassed 88% ($46.5 million) of its $53 million goal. Core support from Measure G, passed by Oakland voters in 2002, provided $23.6 million for capital improvements and gave the campaign a strong early launch.
The first private leadership gift came from the Chevron Corporation, in 2005. Other lead gifts came from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, The Bernard Osher Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.
“The Oakland Museum of California has been a deeply cherished Bay Area institution for decades. The Bernard Osher Foundation is delighted to join with the people of Oakland and other local contributors to help realize such a dynamic vision for the museum’s future,” said Foundation President Mary Bitterman.
The capital campaign has also had full participation from the “museum family”: the trustees; the Oakland Museum Women’s Board; and the Art, History, and Natural Sciences Guilds.
“We’ve off to a great start with the public campaign,” said Sheryl Wong, museum foundation board chair and campaign chair. “But we will look to the larger community for critical support to build the museum’s future.”
The renovation begins January 2, 2008. Phase I will reconfigure the Art and History Galleries and enhance the Oak Street entry with an ADA ramp and a steel canopy by 2009, in time to mark the museum’s 40th anniversary. Phase II, set for 2011 completion, includes the Natural Sciences Gallery, educational facilities, and the museum store. A portion ($7.5 million) of the Measure G funds has already helped create the museum’s new California Collections and Research Center (CCRC), an off-site collections storage facility.
The San Francisco architectural firm of Mark Cavagnero Associates will oversee the building modifications, honoring the original architecture and landscape vision of Kevin Roche while updating facilities for visitors. The firm has extensive experience with museum renovations, including designing the seismic retrofit and gallery expansion for the Palace of the Legion of Honor.
The museum’s popular First Fridays After Five, school tours, public programs, and the annual Black History Month, Lunar New Year, California Wildflower Show, Días de los Muertos, and Fungus Fair events will all continue through the construction.
Major exhibitions scheduled for 2008 and 2009 include Birth of the Cool (from the Orange County Museum of Art), a retrospective of Oakland artist Squeak Carnwath, The African Presence in Mexico (from the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago), and a survey of contemporary painting from Southern California.