Press Release

Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 10:43am
Oakland Museum of California Announces Details of Major Spring Exhibition RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom
RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom Explores Hip-Hop’s Wide-Reaching and Deep Impact on Our Culture, Highlighting the Influences of the West Coast and San Francisco Bay Area on this Global Phenomenon, Exhibition to run March 24 through August 12, 2018 in OMCA’s Great Hall

(OAKLAND, CA) February 7, 2018— The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) has announced details of its major spring exhibition RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom, a celebration of one of the most influential cultural and social movements of the last 50 years, continuing the Museum’s commitment to examining topics and themes that are socially relevant and meaningful to diverse audiences.

Opening in OMCA’s Great Hall on March 24, RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom uncovers the under-recognized story of how Hip-Hop changed the world. Informed by insights from more than 50 Hip-Hop historians, practitioners, and community members, the interdisciplinary exhibition will explore the many ways that Hip-Hop provides a platform for creative self-expression, activism, youth development, and education.

More than a music genre, Hip-Hop is a distinct culture with an evolved sense of identity, tradition, and history. While it includes diverse communities, Hip-Hop is informed by African Diaspora principles and experiences. A response to tumultuous conditions and political events in the early 1970s, youth took to music, dance, poetry, and art to express themselves, innovating something entirely new. Hip-Hop has continued to evolve to become more relevant, dynamic, and pervasive.

RESPECT recognizes the sensational essence of a movement that has become a unifying culture throughout the world,” said René de Guzman, director of exhibition strategy and senior curator of art at the Oakland Museum of California. “With this exhibition, OMCA sets the stage for a deeper exploration of Hip-Hop: the wisdom and style it has brought to many aspects of all our lives, from the language that we use to the clothes that we wear.”

Through six thematic sections, visitors will discover the beginnings of Hip-Hop and learn about the significant roles that California, and Oakland, have played and continue to play in Hip-Hop’s evolution.

Details of Hip-Hop’s origins will be showcased in photographs and objects from the 1970s, including party flyers from Cornell University’s Hip-Hop Collection, Grandmaster Flash’s original DJ gear, and other iconic images and objects reflecting the birth of Hip-Hop as a cultural response to the times.

A central reading room with select reading materials, artifacts, posters, and statues of Hip-Hop dignitaries provides a space for reflection and learning. Curated listening stations, chess sets, writing prompts, and sample lyrics will inspire further research and meaning-making, connecting Hip-Hop with its deeper cultural principles.

View objects making connections to Hip-Hop style, including everything from street fashion to high-end couture, as well as images by emerging artist Brittani “Brittsense” Sensabaugh, whose powerful photographs documenting marginalized African American neighborhoods will be on display.

Oakland and the Bay Area’s wide-reaching influences on Hip-Hop culture will be recognized through both contemporary and historic elements. A graphic map will highlight Bay Area locations of significant importance to Hip-Hop’s history, and on-the-street style photographs by Oakland-based Amanda Sade Salako illuminate the continued influence of Hip-Hop in the Bay Area today.

A major part of the exhibition is the dynamic Hip-Hop Dojo: a practice, performance, and event space that will come alive with movement and sound as a kind of master class for Hip-Hop enthusiasts. In the Dojo, visitors of all ages and abilities are invited to experiment with scratching on real beat-making equipment, sit on bleachers to socialize and play chess, or watch other museum goers perform in this space. Visitors can also participate in graffiti-making, and learn Hip-Hop dance moves. Throughout the run of the exhibition, more than 80 participants will activate the Dojo with demonstrations, workshops, and cyphers.

Additional contemporary artworks, historic images, artifacts, and immersive experiences will include:


  • Iconic and rare artifacts belonging to Hip-Hop chart-toppers from the past 45 years, including a handwritten essay by Tupac Shakur, an LL Cool J jumpsuit, and original items from ‘90s Hip-Hop group X-Clan.
  • A 6x9 foot tapestry by renowned portraitist Kehinde Wiley, who has recently been commissioned to paint Barack Obama’s official presidential portrait.
  • Contemporary artist Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, imaginative and colorful sculptures paying homage to traditional African American ceremonial wear, also presenting Afrofuturistic qualities.


  • An immersive, multi-projector media environment in the Hip-Hop Dojo, featuring a high-energy video mix by Los Angeles-based DJ Mike Relm.
  • High fashion objects inspired by Hip-Hop, including FRENDS x Dolce & Gabbana’s gold-plated, Swarovski crystal adorned headphones and a Moschino Couture graffiti gown.
  • Items representing street culture, style, and mobility as a form of creative self-expression and personal liberation, including a Chevy Impala convertible, sound systems, boom boxes, skate decks decorated with images of iconic MCs, a collection of authentic ‘90s bomber jackets, and graffiti art.
  • Original photographs of New York City in the 1970s and 1980s by internationally-recognized photographers Martha Cooper and Jamel Shabazz.
  • Works by Hank Willis Thomas, Barry McGee, Mickalene Thomas, Fahamu Pecou, Barry McGee, Nijel Binns, Satch Hoyt, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Sanford Biggers, and others.

    RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom will be on view in OMCA’s Great Hall March 24 through August 12, 2018.

    RESPECT: Hip-Hop Style & Wisdom is supported in part by the Oakland Museum Women's Board and members of the Donor Forum.


    J.B. Blunk: Nature, Art & Everyday Life
    April 21–September 9, 2018
    Discover northern California’s best kept secret in design and craft: J.B. Blunk (1926–2002), a mid-century artist whose connection to nature governed his daily life. Inspired by Japanese philosophies of nature and art’s inseparability, and influenced by rural utopian communities, Blunk’s muse and often his source of materials was the beautiful natural environment of Inverness, California. Blunk’s home property was his ultimate work of art, filled with his handcrafted furniture, ceramics, sculptures, and other functional objects used by his family. His remarkable craftsmanship also took the form of large-scale public works of art, including The Planet, a redwood sculpture commissioned by the Oakland Museum of California in 1969. J.B. Blunk: Nature, Art, & Everyday Life brings together a comprehensive survey of the artist’s works. See northern California’s landscape anew through Blunk’s eyes, and get inspired to find the beauty of nature and art in your own daily life.


    Question Bridge: Black Males
    Through February 25, 2018
    Hailed as one of the Bay Areas Top Exhibitions in 2012 by the San Francisco Chronicle, Question Bridge: Black Males returns to the Oakland Museum of California this fall. Immerse yourself in intimate videoswoven together and arranged to simulate face-to-face conversations between participantsamong a diverse group of 150 Black men across the United States. Hear these men answer each others questions with exceptional honesty and vulnerability, and share stories, beliefs, and values in a personal portrayal of their lives. Encompassing themes of family, love, interracial relationships, community, education, and wisdom, Question Bridge: Black Males presents nuanced portraits of past, present, and future of Black men in American society. Listen, watch, learn, and start your own conversations with this profoundly moving installation.

    In 2012, the Oakland Museum of California presented Question Bridge: Black Males, an innovative and widely exhibited video installation from artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas in collaboration with Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair. Joining the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Brooklyn Museum, OMCA is proud to acquire this groundbreaking and poignant work for its collection.

    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. There is a $4 charge in addition to general admission pricing for special exhibitionsOMCA 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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