Architecture + Gardens

Please note: The OMCA Gardens are currently closed.

Read about the mid-century modernist architecture of the Museum and the recent enhancements by Mark Cavagnero Associates in a A Gift of Architecture 2, available online or at the OMCA Store.

Situated between serene Lake Merritt and busy downtown Oakland, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is one of the most significant architectural examples of mid-century modernism in the United States. When it opened in 1969, OMCA's design by Pritzker prize–winning architect Kevin Roche was acclaimed for its bold and innovative premise: a museum that also serves as a vibrant urban park and public space.

The Museum integrates architecture and landscape architecture and indoor and outdoor spaces into one building program. Its terraced roof gardens and central courtyard, designed by noted landscape architect Dan Kiley, continue to serve as a village green for Oakland residents and visitors from the Bay Area and beyond. Visitors to the Museum will discover three levels of galleries, with gardens on each level that form the roof of the level below. Broad flights of stairs and trellised walkways connect one level to the next and guide you through the landscape designs.

The Museum is continuing its $62.2 million renovation and expansion project overseen by the San Francisco architectural firm of Mark Cavagnero Associates, honoring the original architecture and landscape vision of Kevin Roche and Dan Kiley while upgrading visitor amenities and integrating the museum experience. Modifications encompass new exhibition and programming space, seating, and modernized lighting for better viewing of the collections. A new 90-foot canopy over the Oak Street entrance enhances the Museum's street presence. The Galleries of California Art and California History reopened to the public in 2010; the Gallery of California Natural Sciences reopened in late May 2013, completing the Museum's multi-year, multi-level transformation.