OMCA Connect

OMCA Connect

What we believe
At the Oakland Museum of California, our identity and mission of connecting communities to the cultural and environmental heritage of California, extends far beyond the Museum walls. At the heart of our mission is OMCA’s long-standing commitment to engagement and partnerships within the community. Also known as the “Museum of the people,” OMCA’s legacy of engaging in deep relationships with individuals, organizations and diverse communities has helped to shape space for a range of community voices, in a variety of programs and exhibitions.

What we do
OMCA is continuing to engage Oakland in participatory arts projects outside the museum’s walls, through OMCA Connect. OMCA Connect brings together community members, professional artists, community-based organizations, and Museum staff to create participatory arts projects in community spaces and surrounding neighborhoods. The Oakland Rover, OMCA’s “mobile museum,” is one of the many tools used.

OMCA Connect is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation. 

James Irvine Foundation

OMCA at the Malcolm X Jazz Festival, Oakland. Photo by Sophia Hussain.
Visit the Oakland Rover and OMCA's art making table at events around the Bay Area; attendees shown here at the 2014 Malcolm X Jazz Festival.

OMCA Connect Events

August 25–26, 2018 10 am–5 pm

Oakland Chinatown StreetFest

April 21, 2018 10 am–2 pm Downtown Oakland YMCA

View past events, 2013–2016 >>

OMCA Connect is supported by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation. Additional support is generously provided by Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

James Irvine Foundation

Brett Cook, Traci Bartlow from the Reflections of Healing Series, 2014. Acrylic, Paint Pen, Spray Enamel on Plywood, 8 x 12 ft. Courtesy of the artist.


Reflections of Healing Public Art Installation
The Oakland Museum of California presented a new public art installation on the Museum’s exterior wall adjacent to 12th Street and Lake Merritt in the fall of 2014. Created by artist Brett Cook in collaboration with community partners, Reflections of Healing came out of a process that combined wellness, community engagement, and art-making. The artwork consists of portraits featuring Oakland residents who, through practice or legacy, demonstrate healing.

The Reflections of Healing Celebration and Mural Unveiling was held on October 24, 2014, from 4 pm to 8 pm and will include art activities, performances, and food in addition to participatory activities facilitated by healers depicted in current and former Reflections of Healing portraits. Reflections of Healing was developed in partnership with the Life is Living Festival


We Dream in Art Mural Banner Project

In the summer and fall of 2013, the Oakland Rover took participatory art activities to public spaces in Oakland's San Antonio, Chinatown, Uptown and West Oakland neighborhoods. The resulting artwork and portraits is featured in a mural at OMCA along Oak Street and 12th Streets. The 'We Dream in Art' mural was unveiled on Friday, February 28! Watch our video about the project.

» Watch the video

The Oakland Rover


The Oakland Rover is OMCA’s interactive electric mobile museum whose mission is to bring participatory arts to the community. The art activities foster creativity, art making, and visioning processes that will enrich participants both within and outside of the Museum walls.


With a custom-designed truck bed with cartridges that pull out to facilitate creative community projects, the Oakland Rover brings OMCA to you! The Oakland Rover debuted in 2012 as part of OMCA’s we/customize exhibition, hitting the streets with trips to Bay Area maker-centric sites like farmers markets, Art Murmur, Mini Maker Faire, and the Alternative Press Expo among others. Since the summer of 2013, the Oakland Rover has connected with residents of San Antonio, Chinatown, Uptown and West Oakland communities.
Connect with the Oakland Rover in your community
Fun facts about the Oakland Rover:
●      The Oakland Rover’s top cruising speed is 25 miles per hour 
●      It’s one of a kind! The Oakland Rover was designed by Martin Sprouse and Dan Rosenfeld, in collaboration with OMCA curators. 
●      It’s electric! The Oakland Rover’s pre-customized self was built by Canadian Electric Vehicles, is a Might-E-Truck at its core and plugs into a 120 AC outlet. The approximate energy use to fully charge the batteries is 16 kwh.
●      The Oakland Rover can run 10 hot glue guns from its electric battery. (Bring on the art projects!)
●      The Oakland Rover can fit into the OMCA Galleries. In fact, it’s the first truck to cruise all around the OMCA grounds! 



Community Partnerships

OMCA believes that partnership is at the heart of rich and diverse programming, exhibitions, and successful civic engagement.  Partnership with local organizations and individuals is key to creating a more thriving and revitalized community. The Museum has had over 150 collaborators in the past decade and looks forward to expanding this effort.

OMCA is creating the basis of a local arts network by developing sustained partnerships with Oakland arts and wellness organizations located in nearby neighborhoods.


Current OMCA Neighboring Community Partnerships include:

Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE)
The Alameda County Office of Education promotes student achievement and development through leadership, innovation, and accountability in partnership with public, educational community, and parents.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS)
The CBNMS is a federal reserve created to protect the Cordell Bank and Bodega Canyon, an extremely productive marine area 52 miles west-northwest of San Francisco.

Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC)
OACC is an organization that produces Asian and Pacific Islander arts and culture programs that promote cross-cultural and cross-generational exchange and learning. OACC aims to foster community and cultural understanding through art and culture education.

Oakland Public Education Fund (OPEF or Ed Fund)
The Ed Fund's mission is to lead the development and investment of community resources in Oakland public schools so that all students can learn, grow, and thrive.

YMCA of the East Bay
The YMCA is a cause-driven organization, and the nation's leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

Neighborhood Identity Report

In fall of 2013, the Oakland Museum of California embarked on the Neighborhood Identity Project, which aims to understand the needs and values of specific Oakland neighborhoods with the goal of strengthening ties between these communities and the Museum. The Oakland communities included in this project are: Oakland Chinatown, West Oakland, Downtown and Uptown, and the San Antonio and Fruitvale neighborhoods. These areas are in close proximity to the Museum, and participants were asked to share the unique strengths and challenges that shape their neighborhood.

OMCA Connect brings together community members, professional artists, community-based organizations, and Museum staff to create participatory arts projects in community spaces and surrounding neighborhoods. Below, see some of the many stories about our work and ways that OMCA Connect has built community in Oakland.

Stories from our Community Storytellers
April 25, 2015 Eyes on Oakland: The Role of Surveillance in Your Community Max Gibson
September 10, 2014 We Are All in the Same “Love” Gang—Poster making pop-up with Michael Wertz Max Gibson
August 23, 2014 Chinatown StreetFest Offers Culture, Evolution, and Perspective Max Gibson
August 20, 2014 Be Your Own Superhero Max Gibson
July 31, 2014 How We Heal in Oakland Sophia Hussain
July 25, 2014 West Oakland Youth Center's "Friday Night Live" Jean Melesaine
July 19, 2014 Summer's Here: A Call-and-Response Community Song Workshop Max Gibson
July 14, 2014 Learning Through Healing Max Gibson
July 7, 2014 Malcolm X Jazz Festival: Healing through celebration Sophia Hussain
July 7, 2014 BAY-Peace and Youth Together: Highlighting Oakland Young Activists Sophia Hussain
June 18, 2014 Roy Chan: Using oral history to make Asian immigrant experiences visible Sophia Hussain
June 12, 2014 The Mullins: A Story of a Family Sophia Hussain
April 15, 2014 Kharyshi Wiginton: Youth Organizing at McClymonds High School Sophia Hussain
January 28, 2014 Art as togetherness: Mr. Liu's work in Oakland embraces the culture of immigration Sophia Hussain
December 26, 2013 Interview with Peps 357 (Eastside Arts Alliance) Sophia Hussain
November 5, 2013 Community is in High Demand Sophia Hussain