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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. The garden is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 am to 5 pm (and until 9 pm on Friday). Please check to see occasional Garden closures.

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.


California Native Plants

Each level of the museum’s terraced garden boasts drought-tolerant native plants from different California ecoregions. Featuring species from coastal forests, oak woodlands, low desert, and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystems, the garden’s plantings also provide important habitat for resident and migratory birds, pollinating insects, and more. 


Visible from the neighborhood and while on campus, the sculpture in the garden includes pieces by artists such as Ruth Asawa, Betty Gold, Bruce Beasley, Fletcher Benton, Beniamino Bufano, Mark di Suvero, Viola Frey, Henry C. Rollins, and Peter Voulkos.

Local Oakland-based artist Binta Ayofemi created sculpture and artist’s edition seating, tables, and other furniture for OMCA’s garden and outdoor public spaces. Ayofemi’s works, which she refers to as “Portals,” are inspired in part by the culture and history of Oakland.

Oakland Views

The terraced levels of the building provide views of the surrounding Oakland landscape, including some culturally significant places that are described in outdoor labels.

The Great Lawn

A new entrance allows access to the garden directly from Lake Merritt and invites Oakland to gather on The Great Lawn. Performances and festivals on the main stage bring the community together in this beautiful lakeside setting.


When the Museum opened in 1969, OMCA’s design by 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 landscape architect Dan Kiley, continue to draw Oakland residents and visitors from the Bay Area and beyond.

The great achievement of the Oakland Museum of California was to show that a museum need not look like a temple or palace but can be a public park.

-The Wall Street Journal