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First-Ever Museum Exhibition to Explore Complex Issues Surrounding Marijuana in California To Open at Oakland Museum of California in April 2016

Hi-res press images.

(Oakland, CA)—In April 2016, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will open a new exhibition exploring marijuana, its uses, and the evolving public attitudes and complex issues surrounding it. On view in OMCA’s Great Hall, the exhibition, titled Altered State: Marijuana in California, will be the first-ever museum exhibition to focus on the topic. Designed as a catalyst for conversation and reflection, the exhibition explores the many ways that people consider marijuana, including historical, social, and political perspectives, scientific data, and opinions of a diverse range of community members and groups. Altered State will provide the opportunity for museum visitors to add their voices to the evolving conversation.

“California is on the verge of making important decisions around marijuana that will impact people living in this state,” says Kelly McKinley, Director of the OMCA Lab. “OMCA is a place where people can come together to learn, question, and add their voice to the different points of view around this topic at a very critical time in public decision making.”

With marijuana increasingly in the news and as several states have recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana while many others are considering new medical and recreational legislation, the exhibition will be a timely opportunity to explore how people have constructed different perspectives and sets of values about marijuana over time, many of which are in conflict.

Through historical, scientific, and social stories, the exhibition will present ten ways that people consider cannabis in California, including: Cannabis Science, Medical Marijuana, Profitable Pot, Sacred Ganja, Criminal Dope, Creative Grass, Evil Weed, Politically Loaded, Youth and Marijuana, and Recreational Reefer. Each topic will be explored using the most current data, expert and community voices, historical and contemporary media and ephemera, interactives and prompts to stimulate conversation, and direct contributions from museum visitors.

“The roles of museums in today’s world are shifting,” says OMCA Director Lori Fogarty. “At OMCA, we aim to inspire Californians to create a more vibrant future for themselves and their communities. As part of this, we are dedicated to being a place where people can come learn about complex topics and, more importantly, add their voices and stories to the dialogue. This exhibition is proof of that in action.”

The exhibition will be on view in the Oakland Museum of California’s Great Hall April 16 through September 25, 2016.

Altered State: Marijuana in California is made possible in part by generous support from the Oakland Museum Women’s Board.


The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) brings together collections of art, history, and natural science under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. OMCA’s groundbreaking exhibits tell the many stories that comprise California with many voices, often drawing on first-person accounts by people who have shaped California’s cultural heritage. Visitors are invited to actively participate in the Museum as they learn about the natural, artistic, and social forces that affect the state and investigate their own role in both its history and its future. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage.


The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is at 1000 Oak Street, at 10th Street, in Oakland. Museum admission is $15.95 general; $10.95 seniors and students with valid ID, $6.95 youth ages 9 to 17, and free for Members and children 8 and under. OMCA offers onsite underground parking and is conveniently located one block from the Lake Merritt BART station, on the corner of 10th Street and Oak Street. The accessibility ramp is located at the 1000 Oak Street main entrance to the Museum.

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