OMCA Campus Renovations FAQ

The Oakland Museum of California has had a ransformation! 

The Oakland Museum of California has renovated our seven-acre campus, including a new, direct entrance from Oakland’s Lake Merritt, upgrades and improved access to our café, and newly redesigned gardens. 

After several months of temporary closure due to the impacts of COVID-19, visitors will get the first glimpse at the Museum's extraordinary re-landscaped garden once OMCA reopens to the public. New paving areas, newly installed sculpture, new native trees and plantings, a new lawn, and a new outdoor stage that will soon be used for programming and performances will all be available to enjoy.   

Situated between Lake Merritt and 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 the Museum 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. OMCA’s terraced roof gardens and central courtyard, originally designed by noted landscape architect Dan Kiley, continue to draw Oakland residents and visitors from the Bay Area and beyond.

Get a glimpse at our extraordinary Garden transformation, part of our All In! Campaign for OMCA campus improvement project. Building on the vision to serve as a gathering place for the community, award-winning landscape architect Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio, as well as the architecture firm Mark Cavagnero Associates, have partnered with OMCA to improve our outdoor spaces and provide greater access for our community.

Significant progress has been made to the multi-phased project, including new paving areas, newly installed sculpture, new native trees and plantings, a new lawn, and a new outdoor stage that will soon be used for programming and performances. We’ll soon open up a new entrance at the corner of 12th Street facing Lake Merritt, connecting the Museum to the city of Oakland in a whole new way. We can’t wait for you to see our new look! 

Why did OMCA decide to renovate? 
OMCA places our community and the visitor experience at the core of all activities. This renovation will help OMCA to expand its role as a public gathering place, offering even more amenities. These improvements will help us better share our space with Oakland, providing opportunities for more dynamic programs and community events once visitors are again able to safely gather. The renovations will also create improved ease of access to the gardens, café, and galleries through additional ADA-accessible ramps and campus wayfinding.

Who designed this project? 
OMCA has partnered with Oakland-based landscape architect and MacArthur Genius award-winner Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio, as well as the architecture firm Mark Cavagnero Associates, as co-leads of the project. Project manager and financing consultant Equity Community Builders (ECB) and general contractor Cahill Contractors were also instrumental in completing this project.   

What changes were 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 leading visitors from the lawn to the second-level terraces. The entrances will be open later this year. 

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. 

Who funded the project? 
All In! The Campaign for OMCA was undertaken to expand the Museum’s role as a public gathering place. The Museum has earmarked $15 million of its overall $85 million campaign goal toward the campus and garden renovations. The project is also funded in part by Capital One Commercial Bank, Oakland Renaissance NMTC, Inc., and the City of Oakland. 

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, the trees that were removed were identified as end-of-life and would pose a safety concern for our visitors if they remained intact. The trees have been chipped and returned to the garden as mulch. Many California native trees have been replanted as part of the renovation. 

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. 

I’m looking to plan an event at OMCA this year. How will the construction impact my ability to rent your facilities?
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!

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