OMCA Campus Renovations FAQ

NOTE: As of Monday, May 4, OMCA has resumed construction for its campus renovation project. The Alameda County Health Ordinance now allows for construction projects to resume, adhering to safety protocols and requirements outlined in the ordinance. Please stay tuned for more information regarding the project's completion. 

The Oakland Museum of California is Undergoing a Transformation! 

The Oakland Museum of California will be renovating our seven-acre campus beginning in February 2020,  including a new, direct entrance from Oakland’s Lake Merritt, upgrades and improved access to our café, and refreshed gardens complete with new native plantings and a permanent stage for increased outdoor programming. OMCA will remain open during construction, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.  

Wondering how this will impact your visit? Here’s what you’ll need to know when planning a trip to OMCA. 

Why did OMCA decide to renovate? 
OMCA places our community and the visitor experience at the core of all activities. In the Museum's 50th year, this renovation will help OMCA to expand its role as a public gathering place, offering even greater amenities to serve as Oakland's town square. These improvements will help us better share our space with Oakland, providing opportunities for more dynamic programs and community events, creating improved ease of access to the gardens, café, and galleries through additional ADA-accessible ramps and campus wayfinding, and more. We look forward to welcoming you, our community, for the next 50 years!

Who is designing this project? 
OMCA has hired Oakland-based landscape architect and MacArthur Genius award-winner Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio, as well as the architecture firm Mark Cavagnero Associates, to co-lead the project. 

What changes will be made to the campus?
The campus renovations will include two new entrances to the Museum, including a new entrance to our garden on the 12th Street corner of the building facing Lake Merritt, as well as a new entrance on 10th Street that will allow direct access to our café. Both entrances will include ADA-accessible ramps. 

The Museum’s terraces and gardens will feature new native plantings, updated public sculpture by renowned California artists, and a permanent stage to provide opportunities for a wider range of outdoor programming. A new ADA-accessible ramp will lead visitors from the lawn to the second level terraces. 

Will OMCA be open during construction?
Yes, OMCA’s Galleries of California Art, History, and Natural Sciences, as well as our full lineup of special exhibitions, will all be open and on view throughout the year. Don’t miss OMCA’s exciting 50th anniversary programming, as well as other special events throughout our anniversary year. The OMCA Store and parking garage will also remain open during construction.

There will be periods of time when the garden is closed for campus improvements. Updates will be posted on the Museum's website, as well as our social media channels and eNewsletter. 

Will the café close for construction?
The construction will include significant enhancements to the café. Therefore, OMCA’s Blue Oak café will close February 23, 2020, reopening later this summer with an exciting new concept: Town Fare by Tanya Holland. In the interim, enjoy our pop-up with food from Oakland-based Zella’s Soulful Kitchen, serving locally-sourced, Southern & American comfort classics with a California twist. Café service will include coffee and tea as well as grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items, open Wednesday–Friday, 11 am–2 pm and Saturday–Sunday 11 am–3 pm. The pop-up will be located inside OMCA’s Level 1 lobby, near the Gallery of California Natural Sciences entrance. Limited lobby seating will be available. 

Who is funding the project? 
All In! The Campaign for OMCA is part of a long-term vision to expand the Museum’s role as a public gathering place. OMCA has earmarked $15 million of its campaign funds toward the campus and garden renovations. The project is also receiving support through a federal program for low-income communities and from Measure KK funding, both allocated to the project by the City of Oakland. In addition, approximately $30 million will support OMCA's curatorial, educational, and public programming initiatives, as well as ongoing social impact research and evaluation. 

Interested in learning more or supporting the campaign and its goals? Visit

I noticed some of the trees on campus have been removed. Is this part of the redesign?
Yes, OMCA is in the process of removing dead trees and plantings from campus as part of our renovation work. The trees being removed have been identified as end-of-life and would pose a safety concern for our visitors if they remained intact. 

The trees will be chipped and returned to the garden as mulch. Many California native trees will be replanted as part of the renovation. OMCA will continue this work throughout this year and next and will notify its visitors and neighbors of any potential impacts to the campus.

What’s happening with the sculptures? 
We’re bringing a fresh eye to the public sculptures on view in the gardens, pulling back much of the overgrown plantings and rotating many of the sculptures on view. This will allow visitors the opportunity to better view works, including 24 sculptures by internationally renowned California artists such as Ruth Asawa, Bruce Beasley, Beniamino Bufano, Mark di Suvero, Viola Frey, George Rickey, and Peter Voulkos. 

Notice a favorite sculpture has moved or is missing? Many sculptures have been moved to spaces better suited for their material, or have been transitioned out to be cared for as part of our collection. 

What about Friday Nights?
The party is on! OMCA's 8th season of Friday Nights at OMCA will continue throughout the renovations, including Off the Grid food trucks, DJs, music, family programs, late-night gallery access, and other activities for the community every Friday night. Due to construction, music performances will take place in Oak Street Plaza on Level 3, and all family programs will be held in the California Room on Level 1. First-come, first-served seating will be available near the Koi pond and on the 3rd level terrace. Stay tuned for more information and sign up for the Museum’s eNews to receive the latest details, or find more details on our Friday Nights at OMCA webpage

I’m looking to plan an event at OMCA this year. How will this impact rentals?
We are currently booking events that occur in the James Moore Theater. OMCA will temporarily limit other event rental spaces due to the impact on external and internal locations. If you’re looking to host an event with us in the future, please fill out an event inquiry form and we’ll do our best to accommodate your request. Or, join our mailing list if you'd like to be among the first to learn more about opportunities to host your event after the café and garden renovations are complete. We look forward to hosting you at OMCA soon!

How long will OMCA be under construction?
Construction will be implemented in phases, beginning in February of 2020. The anticipated completion date is December 2020. Sign up for the Museum’s eNews for the latest information on campus improvements. 

Want to stay in-the-know?
Sign up for our eNews for updates. Questions? Please email

Read more about the project in the news:
Architectural Record 
Art Newspaper
Mercury News
San Francisco Chronicle
The Architect's Newspaper