December 20, 2017

Best of 2017

A roundup of our favorite posts from the last year

By Emily Holmes, Digital Communications Specialist

In the past year on the Oakland Museum of California Blog, we’ve covered everything from the joining the Women’s March to supporting the #DayOfFacts from our own collections; revealing Dorothea Lange’s personal archive to unveiling a custom mural in Oak Street Plaza; sharing interviews from activists at the Dakota Access Pipeline to offering our own Citizen Science projects you can do at home. We’re proud to tell stories from and about our community, sharing topics from inside the Museum walls and beyond. Our mission is, as always, is to inspire all Californians to create a more vibrant future for themselves and their communities—and we hope that these stories help you dig a little deeper into the world around you.

1. Why We March
On Saturday, January 21, 2017, the people of Oakland, California made history. Part of the coordinated national and international Women’s Marches, the Oakland March took place the day after the presidential inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.. In San Francisco and Oakland, both events had estimated crowds of 100,000 people who marched in the cold and rain to show their solidarity with women and other marginalized communities. The two-mile parade route in Oakland took marchers from Madison Park, past Lake Merritt, and then down Broadway to Frank Ogawa Plaza for a rally—with people passing right by the Museum. Many of OMCA’s own staff participated—check out some of their photos, reflections, and reasons for marching. 

2. Taking Native People’s Land: Now and Then
For centuries, Native Americans have resisted attacks on their lives and their lands. The struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2017 is the latest chapter in this long and bloody history. Calling themselves water protectors, the activists hope to ensure that the Standing Rock Sioux’s sacred lands in North Dakota and the drinking water of millions will stay safe from drilling and oil spills. History Now, a new installation in the OMCA Gallery of California History, compares the past with the present through an historic artifact, and contemporary quotes and photos. OMCA staff asked Joey Montoya, a Lipan Apache from the Bay Area, to visit Standing Rock in November 2016 and interview indigenous protectors there. Here, those protectors share what they would tell their children in 20 years about what’s happening today.

3. #DayOfFacts
On February 17, 2017, the Oakland Museum of California joined hundreds of other organizations to mark the #DayofFacts—a collective activism by the country’s cultural institutions to show the world that we are still trusted sources for truth and knowledge.  Museums, libraries, archives, cultural institutions, science centers, and other trusted public sources of knowledge across the United States participated, sharing objective and relevant facts relating to their missions on social media. From the treatment of Native Californians to California's shared history with Mexico, to how climate change impacts Yosemite and the Bay Area, to the first LGBT individual to run for public office, OMCA's collections and galleries are an incredibly rich and trusted source of facts on a range of topics. We welcome everyone to experience curiosity and wonder as they discover the unknown at OMCA. 

4. 5 Women Artists + 1
For Women’s History Month in March 2017, the National Museum of Women in the Arts has brought back its annual social media challenge to ask, “Can you name five women artists?” Faced with inequality in the arts world, this challenge is meant to inspire conversation and bring awareness about incredible women to a large audience. This year, OMCA joined over 200 institutions in meeting the challenge by highlighting five incredible living women artists from our collection—featuring one bonus artist for good measure. These women are diverse as they come in terms of their medium, subject matter, background, and stories. Check out their work in the slideshow above, and read more below on each of these incredible artists.

5. Handle with Care: Working with Dorothea Lange’s Archive
Having close access to Dorothea Lange’s entire collection, which we house right here at the Oakland Museum of California, gives us an unusual perspective and opportunities for direct interactions with the artist’s work. Two of OMCA’s team members played extra hands-on roles in producing never-seen-before prints and contact sheets on view in Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing. Our Intellectual Property and Imaging Coordinator Brittney Bradley mightily handles the care and cleaning of Lange’s archive, among other collections tasks, and our Graphics and Installation Specialist Ven Voissey is our meticulous maker of printed text and images, including the large-scale photographs you’ll find on the exhibition walls. 

6. Celebrate Oakland Pride
Two months after National Pride Month in June, Oakland does it all over again with our own local flair in September! Whether you’re already looking forward to marching with the Oakland Pride Parade and Festival next year, here’s how to celebrate Pride at OMCA in September and year-round with collection highlights in our galleries. 

7. Science for the People
New this year to our Gallery of California Natural Sciences, the Oakland Museum of California’s Citizen Science Vending Machine helps you participate in real scientific research project with easy-to-use kits—all from the comfort of your own home or backyard. 

8. Monarchs, Marigolds, and a Mural
This year, there was something new a-flutter at the Oakland Museum of California’s Oak Street Plaza: a beautiful mural of Monarch Butterflies painted by Oakland-based artist Jet Martinez. Commissioned for our exhibition Metamorphosis & Migration: Days of the Dead, which runs through January 14, 2018. Titled Resilience, Jet’s mural was a perfect beginning to our favorite biennial exhibition. This year, our Days of the Dead exhibition takes the lifecycle of the Monarch Butterfly as a core inspiration.

9. How to Do Friday Nights with Nature’s Gift 
Inside OMCA’s exhibition Nature’s Gift: Humans, Friends & the Unknown, on view through January 21, 2018, you have unbridled permission to play. You’re also encouraged to lie down when you get tired! Inside this Astroturf-lined room, you’ll find a row of silky hammocks, full-size bean bags and seating cushions, and, of course, an enormous inflatable sculpture that emits a rainbow of light. During Friday Nights @ OMCA (5–9 pm Fridays), Nature’s Gift gets a little something extra, too: enter a Cash Bar and Pop-Up Store to level up your vibe. We honed in on our top six ways to do Nature’s Gift during Friday Nights @ OMCA—or anytime, really!

10. Light in Times of Darkness
We close out the year with Days of the Dead Guest Curator Evelyn Orantes, who reflects on how cultures throughout the world have created dazzling and unique rituals and traditions to acknowledge the changing of the seasons. Each season celebrates a different aspect of nature; spring celebrates birth and regeneration while winter is associated with stillness, darkness, and things ending—sparking the human impulse to create rituals to help us outwardly express our inner emotions. Artists use that impulse and gift us with artworks that give form to the things that live in our hearts and minds. Here, Evelyn shares a personal ritual for remembrance you can create anytime. 

Thank you for reading the Oakland Museum of California Blog this year—we look forward to all of the stories to come in the upcoming year!