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Oakland Museum of California Announces New Exhibition Exploring Maps as a Tool to Share Stories and Ideas About the Bay Area and California

(OAKLAND, CA) November 19, 2019In February 2020, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) will open a compelling new exhibition in its Gallery of California Natural Sciences, You Are Here: California Stories on the Map. Organized by guest curator Sarah Seiter, the exhibition will showcase a diverse selection of maps from Oakland, the Bay Area, and California that explore how maps can be a powerful tool to share unique points of view and imagine a better future for our communities.


The exhibition will unpack how mapmakers design maps to convey their message—and how mapmakers’ perspectives shape their work. With maps organized around distinct subjects—climate change and the natural environment, public health, personal maps, and community mapping projectsYou Are Here will offer new ways of seeing familiar places.


A section on climate change, featuring maps of Oakland sea levels and California wildfires, will consider how maps are an especially important tool to understand our changing environment. Another section will explore how mapping data can help us better see important patterns in health and wellbeing across the Bay Area. This series includes examples from the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, charting the displacement of evicted San Franciscans, and from the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, illustrating how air quality data can be used for community advocacy.


Unique works by contemporary artists will highlight how maps can be a tool for artistic expression. This section will offer new perspectives on specific places through map-based artworks, such as Omar Mismar’s neon Path of Love series; artist and writer Jenny Odell’s Satellite Landscapes, which explores land use through satellite photos; and Margo Rivera-Weiss’s colorful, illustrative maps of food culture in the East Bay. In a section on community mapping, visitors will see how maps co-created by a diverse group of community members can offer a rich and nuanced view of place, such as a nationwide map of Monarch butterfly migrations created by a community of volunteers. Visitors will also have the opportunity to mark their own experiences on a community map inside the exhibition.


Empowered by information within the exhibition about how to make maps, visitors will have the opportunity to explore mapping through a card game matching real places to the symbols that could represent them. Visitors will also be able to create their own personal map of Oakland or the Bay Area that will be compiled in an ongoing Atlas of Oakland to be displayed in the exhibition.

“This exhibition explores how maps can be a powerful tool to share the history of a place, and consider together the future we want for our communities,” said guest curator Sarah Seiter. “OMCA has worked with artists, scientists, and community groups to source and create maps that inspire us and help us see new perspectives on places we know and care about. We hope this exhibition will serve as a jumping off point to inspire our visitors to learn more about all that maps can tell us, from important issues like climate change to amusing local topics, like the best places to eat in Oakland.”


You Are Here: California Stories on the Map will be on view in OMCAs Gallery of California Natural Sciences February 14, 2020 through February 28, 2022.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit



In Conversation: Mapping Untold Stories
Saturday, April 25, 2–3:30 pm | James Moore Theater

As part of OMCA’s new exhibition, You Are Here: California Stories on the Map, consider the ways in which invisible patterns and powers are made real on maps in this special program. How do maps help tell under-told stories? How does collecting data enable us to understand the histories of oppression and imbalance of power? What do maps help reveal for future generations? Join the conversation with Liam O’Donoghue, host and producer of acclaimed podcast East Bay Yesterday, Jenny Odell, multi-disciplinary artist and author of How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Alexis Madrigal, journalist and staff writer at The Atlantic, and Dr. Brandi Thompson Summers, assistant professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The program will be moderated by You Are Here guest curator, Sarah Seiter. Tickets available soon.


Hella Feminist: An Exhibition
Great Hall
April 25, 2020–August 23, 2020
Feminism. It’s a loaded word; as empowering to some as it is challenging for others. This Spring, we take on this complex and timely topic with Hella Feminist: An Exhibition, celebrating the lesser-known stories of feminism here in Oakland and the Bay Area. 

Spurred by the #metoo movement and recent wave of progressive political activism, feminism today has become increasingly about how race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual identity are interrelated, creating a movement that is more inclusive and more powerful than those that came before. 

Organized around three core themes—mind, body, and spirit—the exhibition features fascinating historical artifacts, provocative contemporary artwork, and interactive elements. Showcasing everyday acts of resistance as well as historical flashpoints, Hella Feminist invites you to experience the concept of feminism in all its struggle, triumph, and hope; to re-think your relationship to the word and the ideas it represents; and to consider how all of us can take action to shape a more just future.

Edith Heath: A Life in Clay

Great Hall

June 27, 2020–January 3, 2020

Trailblazer. Rebel. Revolutionary. Discover the story of Edith Heath, founder and designer of Heath Ceramics. Heath transformed the ceramics industry, creating dinnerware from California clay for “Sunday best” and everyday use. Driven by the power of good design, and a commitment to her craft, Heath’s vision continues to live on through her stoneware and tile over 70 years later. Durable, not delicate, simple, yet stylish, Heath Ceramics is an icon of American design.




No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man
Great Hall

October 12, 2019–February 23, 2020

*Now Extended by Popular Demand
With spectacular artwork and large-scale installations from one of the most widely-celebrated cultural events in the world, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man takes over OMCA in Fall of 2019. Each year the weeklong Burning Man event attracts over 70,000 people to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Participants create and build Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis where experimental art installations—some ritually burned to the ground—are the centerpiece for innovators, makers, and a burgeoning artistic community. The exhibition illuminates the values of Burning Man through its guiding Ten Principles: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation, and Immediacy. The exhibition features many works by Bay Area artists including jewelry, costumes, “mutant” vehicles, sculptures, photography, and paintings. A companion exhibition within the gallery, City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man, organized by the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, traces Burning Man’s origins from its countercultural roots in the San Francisco Bay Area to the world-famous desert gathering it is today.


This immersive and multi-sensory experience will extend beyond the gallery walls into the Museum’s public spaces—including an OMCA-commissioned 40-foot-tall outdoor temple by internationally-acclaimed sculptor David Best.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man is organized by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, No Spectators will make its final stop at OMCA after traveling to the Cincinnati Art Museum.

City of Dust: The Evolution of Burning Man is organized by the Nevada Museum of Art.

The museums especially thank colleagues from Burning Man Project, a nonprofit public benefit corporation, for their close collaboration and assistance throughout the preparation of this exhibition and tour.

Lead support for the exhibition was provided by Intel and Bently Foundation. Support for the exhibition’s tour is provided by the C. F. Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment Fund.

¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of El Día de los Muertos

Gallery of California Art

October 16, 2019–February 16, 2020

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of OMCA’s beloved El Día de los Muertos celebration with an exhibition inspired by the Chicano activists who introduced Día de los Muertos traditions to the United States in the 1970s. ¡El Movimiento Vivo! Chicano Roots of El Día de los Muertos will honor and explore the lesser-known origins of Day of the Dead, and the ways these traditions continue to inspire social and political change today.

Visitors will encounter altars, artworks, and interactive elements that show how Chicano activists used Day of the Dead traditions to foster pride in their indigenous heritage and unify their communities. Experience a Oaxacan style ofrenda and hear first-hand stories of the Chicanos who went to Oaxaca to gather Day of the Dead traditions from elders. Honor members of the first Chicano generation and their enduring legacy through a series of colorful ofrendas created by contemporary artists, interactive features, and intergenerational conversations captured on film. Other elements—from historical objects, a mural, and a sculpture that sparked the first Day of the Dead celebrations at OMCA—will immerse viewers in the evolving identities, traditions, and artistic expressions of the Chicano community, both then and now.

Dorothea Lange: Photography as Activism
Gallery of California Art

Experience the iconic life and work of Dorothea Lange, world-renowned documentary photographer, with an expanded installation of her works in the Gallery of California Art. Through the lens of her camera, Lange documented American life with riveting photographs that captured some of the most powerful moments of the 20th century. Drawn from Lange’s personal archive, which was gifted to OMCA over 50 years ago, and in response to the popular 2017 exhibition Dorothea Lange: The Politics of Seeing, a number of newly added photographs will illustrate the power of photography as social activism. See how Lange’s work continues to resonate with millions and inspire new generations of artists and activists.

Black Power
Gallery of California History
Uncover the history of the Black Power movements in California with a compelling addition to the Gallery of California History. In response to the widely-popular 2016 exhibition All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50, this new installation will illustrate the creative ways black anti-racist activists in California supported their communities and challenged the U.S. government. Focusing on the example of the Black Panther Party, Black Power will bring to light the tensions between a culturally and socially progressive California and examples of economic racism and oppression in the state. This moment in California history will be represented through historic photographs, provocative objects, iconic posters, paintings and interactive prompts that encourage visitors to take action out in the world. Learn more about the Bay Area role in this national story, and the impacts this history continues to have today.

Question Bridge: Black Males
Gallery of California Art
Hailed as one of the Bay Area’s Top Exhibitions by the San Francisco ChronicleQuestion Bridge: Black Males returns to the Oakland Museum of California’s Gallery of California Art. Immerse yourself in intimate videos—woven together and arranged to simulate face-to-face conversations between participants—among a diverse group of over 160 Black men across the United States. Hear these men answer each other’s 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.

A recent acquisition to the Oakland Museum of California’s permanent collection, Question Bridge is 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) tells the many stories that comprise California, creating the space and context for greater connection, trust, and understanding between people. Through its inclusive exhibitions, public programs, educational initiatives, and cultural events, OMCA brings Californians together and inspires greater understanding about what our state’s art, history, and natural surroundings teach us about ourselves and each other. With more than 1.9 million objects, OMCA brings together its multi-disciplinary collections of art, history, and natural science with the first-person accounts and often untold narratives of California, all within its 110,000 square feet of gallery space and seven-acre campus. The Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage for visitors from the region, the state, and around the world.

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is at 1000 Oak Street, at 10th Street, in Oakland. Museum admission is $16 general; $11 seniors and students with valid ID, $7 youth ages 9 to 17, and free for Members and children 8 and under. There is a $5 charge in addition to general admission pricing for special exhibitions. 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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