Special Exhibitions

Special Exhibition Tours and Programs

Oakland Museum of California’s special exhibitions offer unique school experiences for a limited time each year. This year’s exhibitions include an exploration of Oakland’s multi-layered world of food in Take Root: Oakland Grows Food; a glimpse into the wonderful world of design with The World of Charles and Ray Eames; a whimsical journey combining art and science in Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline; an inspiring presentation of California’s LGBTQ+ history and culture in Queer California: Untold Stories; and a fresh view of Andrew J. Russell’s photography documenting the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in Pushing West: Photography of A.J. Russell

Note: Special exhibitions are accessible to school groups for free with purchase of a self-guided tour, program, and/or performance. See below for self-guided tour booking and special exhibition program information. 


Unearth Oakland's multi-layered world of food in Take Root: Oakland Grows Food, an exhibition exploring aspects of growing food in Oakland. Learn what motivations Oaklanders have for growing food—including access to healthy and delicious ingredients, environmental and social justice values, or simply the joy of tending a garden. Share personal stories, explore interactive activities, and gain a deeper understanding of Oakland's agriculture.
Dates: December 16, 2017–November 2019

Grades 3–8

How and why do we grow food at home, in our neighborhoods, or urban farms? Dig into stories right here in Oakland in Take Root: Oakland Grows Food. Explore dynamic ecological relationships that make growing possible as well as the social issues impacting equal access to healthy, fresh foods for all of our communities. Program includes:

  • A 45-minute tour of the special exhibition Take Root: Oakland Grows Food incorporating connections to the Gallery of California Natural Sciences.
  • A 75-minute poster-making workshop, in which students use screen-printing techniques to creatively express themselves on food-related issues.

Dates: January 17–March 15, 2019
Days: Thursday and Friday
Times: 9:45 am–12 pm (does not include lunch)
11 am–1:45 pm (includes a 45-minute lunch break)

Fees: $250 per class. Oakland School District schools may use a code to receive 30% off.


Fueled by their belief in design as a way of life, the innovative husband and wife duo Charles and Ray Eames were two of the most influential designers of the twentieth century. Go beyond their most well-known designs in this intimate and inspiring exhibition portraying their legacy and lives in California. Explore the breadth of their work across many fields in this interactive exhibition that brings their ideas and playful spirit to life.
Dates: October 13, 2018–February 17, 2019

For information about scheduling private group tours of The World of Charles and Ray Eames, click here.


Drop back in time to see the natural environment of California in a new way. Discover the connections between art and science through fantastically colorful renderings by artist Ray Troll and the reasearch of paleontologist Kirk Johnson, who made an incredible journey to map the ancient world with a fresh perspective. With the addition of sculpture, maps, a giant sloth—or Paramylodon harlani—and other fossils and bones from the collections of OMCA and the California Academy of Sciences, and a fun hands-on activity, this exhibition will thrill fossil fans and curious culture-seekers alike.
Dates: November 10, 2018–March 17, 2019


Explore California as a major site of LGBTQ+ community, culture, and politics. Hear stories of the persistence of hope and change in the face of ongoing violence and hate in these communities. Celebrate the diversity of queer identities and join the conversation surrounding a much larger intersectional battle for change.
Dates: April 13, 2019–August 11, 2019


Get a panoramic view of the building of the Union Pacific Railroad through the captivating photography of Andrew J. Russell. Discover the tensions between this technological transformation and its heavy impact on Native peoples and the environment of the American West.
Dates: May 4, 2019–September 1, 2019.



Dates: October 4, 2018–June 7, 2019
Days: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
Times: 10 am, 10:30 am, 11:15 am, 11:30 am, and 11:45 am
Please note: Self-Guided Tours are not available October 18 & 19, October 25 & 26, November 21-23, December 19-28, 2018 and February 13-22, 2019.

Fees: $4 per person. A ticket must be purchase for every student and chaperone. Oakland School District schools may use a code to receive 30% off.