OMCA Galleries


OMCA's newly restored garden is free and open to the public Wed.–Sun., 11am–5pm (and until 9 pm on Fri.) Gather with us and enjoy the gardens!
*Please note: The garden and cafe will be closed on Sat., May 21st for a private event. The cafe will remain closed on Sun., May 22.

About OMCA's Garden

With a focus on sustainability and accessibility, OMCA’s terraced gardens facing Oakland’s Lake Merritt have been reenvisioned with new native plantings, amplifying five ecoregions of California on each level of the garden. As part of the first phase of the campus transformation, our central lawn on Level One evokes a coastal forest with a stand of existing redwoods alongside new plantings, creating both a sense of enclosure as well as new perspectives of the Museum and the lake through the new access point along 12th Street (opening Summer 2022).

  • New paving areas, including new ADA-accessible ramps, provide greater accessibility and improved pathways for visitors to flow from the garden to the terraces, and into the galleries and cafe.
  • To reserve the Garden for a gathering of 26 people or more, please see event rentals. To host a gathering of 25 people or fewer, visitors must follow our Garden guidelines below.

New outdoor stage

The creation of a new, permanent outdoor stage in the central courtyard will support OMCA’s expanded performance, music, and film programs, coming soon. Complete with built-in lighting and sound equipment, the stage will offer an enhanced way for visitors to engage with our outdoor events. 

New 12th Street entrance 

During construction, an exterior border wall along the Museum’s northern side, facing Oakland’s Lake Merritt, was removed and replaced with three 20-foot openings. This new entryway across the street from the lake will soon be open to allow for easy access to the gardens and Museum, creating a seamless and welcoming connection to the surrounding neighborhood. 

For more information about OMCA’s campus renovation, see our FAQ page.

The campus plan is funded through a five-year $85 million comprehensive fundraising effort, All In! The Campaign for OMCA. In addition to private philanthropy, this project is funded in part by Capital One Commercial Bank, Oakland Renaissance NMTC, Inc., and the City of Oakland. 

Guidelines for Garden gatherings

  • Small gatherings may use the garden furniture on a first come first served basis. Garden furniture may not be rearranged.
  • Acoustic instruments are allowed in the garden when there are no other OMCA programs or events taking place. Amplified sound is not permitted.
  • Still photography for personal, noncommercial use is permitted. Only handheld cameras with attached standard flash equipment are allowed. No auxiliary flash, lighting equipment, tripods, monopods, or selfie sticks are permitted. Please see our full policy for details.
  • Distribution of fliers or promotional materials is not permitted.
  • Skateboarding, roller-skating, and bike riding are not permitted.
  • Non-service animals are not permitted.
  • Outside vending is not permitted.
  • Shoes and clothing are required.
  • Acoustic instruments are allowed in the garden when there are no other OMCA programs or events taking place. Amplified sound is not permitted. No outside furniture can be brought onsite and set up.
  • Please pack out your trash.
  • Commercial and wedding photography are only permitted by prior arrangement.
  • Only alcoholic beverages that have been purchased at OMCA’s cafe or a Museum approved bartender are permitted.
  • Littering and dumping are not permitted. Please use the trash, compost, and recycling bins provided to dispose of waste, including ice.
  • Fundraising, selling wares, food, or services, collecting donations or registration/entrance fees, or solicitation of any type of funds are not allowed at OMCA without prior approval and an event rental contract from the OMCA Event Sales Department.
  • Deliveries, such as but not limited to catered food and beverages, flowers, decor, or balloons without approval and an Event Sales Contract.
  • If you bring balloons, make sure to take them with you when you depart.
  • Only battery operated candles are permitted (no flames allowed).
  • No private event signage may be used unless part of a rental contract and approved by Event Sales.
  • No decor attached to any surfaces, windows or landscaping is permitted.
  • No staking in the grass.
  • No fires or BBQs.

Check our homepage in the morning before arriving to make sure the Garden has not been closed to the public for any reason.

Special thanks to the generous community of donors who made The Museum of California Campaign such an astounding success, including the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation, and special support for the Gallery of California Natural Sciences from the National Science Foundation, California State Parks Nature Education Facilities Program funded by Proposition 84, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the OMCA Natural Sciences Guild.