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Oakland Museum of California Presents New Family-Friendly Exhibition Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact

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(Oakland, CA)—The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) presents a new exhibition in the recently reinstalled Gallery of California Natural Sciences examining the wildly diverse and intricate world of one of the most important creatures to human agriculture and the natural environment. Through family-friendly experiences, hands-on activities, and media, Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact, on view January 31 through September 20, 2015, is the first major museum exhibition to focus on the incredible diversity of bees in California and the urgent issue of bee population declines statewide. Organized by OMCA’s new Associate Curator of Natural Sciences Sarah Seiter, Bees tells the story of these amazing insects, while providing visitors the opportunity to learn about the value of bees to California’s economy and ecosystems, and discover how simple but powerful actions by Californians can help bees to survive in a changing world.

“Bees are in trouble but the good news is that there are easy things that anyone can do to protect their habitat,” says Seiter. “We hope visitors are pleasantly surprised by what they learn in the exhibition. Cities like Oakland are actually one of the best places for bees to live, if people take care of their yards and neighborhoods. We hope Bees will inspire families with simple and fun ways to make a difference.”

Featuring interactive elements, specimen displays, and hands on activities Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact tells the story of these amazing creatures and the other California species that depend on them, including humans. Covering topics such Bay Area beekeeping, the diversity of California native bee species, and the similarities between bees and humans, the exhibition features cutting-edge science on bee behavior and conservation, opportunities for visitors to get involved in research, and ways to make their own yards and neighborhoods more attractive to bees.

A family friendly exhibition, Bees encourages visitors of all ages to discover real bee specimens under a microscope, learn identifying characteristics to tell the difference between different types of bees, and listen to the music of  “buzz pollination”, the unique tones played by bees when pollinating flowers. Children can play games such as “Is it a bee?” to learn how species are identified, and create original animations about their vision for a future with bees. Visitors can climb inside life sized honeybee cells, learning along the way about factors that contribute to bee disappearances. The gallery will feature real beekeeping tools, including a cross-section of a beehive, a honey spinner and implements for honey collection, and a chance to try on real beekeeper suits in adult and child sizes.

A visitor-centered Action Lab offers space to connect with the broader community, with opportunities to get involved with citizen science projects like ZomBee Watch and the Great Sunflower Project. There is space for reflection, learning, and bee-friendly garden planning with books about beekeeping and conservation for adults and kids. The exhibition also offers experiences outside of the Gallery including bee hotels installed in the OMCA Gardens, and guides on building bee hotels for visitors to take home.

Bees: Tiny Insect, Big Impact expands upon the exhibit Bees at the Oakland International Airport, which ran from February 14 through May 2, 2014. The exhibition was guest curated by Misha Leong, UC Berkeley doctoral candidate in entomology.


The new 25,000 square foot Gallery of California Natural Sciences, which reopened in 2013, is the only museum exhibit to showcase a collective portrait of California’s rich biodiversity alongside humans’ interaction with the natural world. The Museum collection of the Natural Sciences showcases California as one of the world’s top ten hotspots for biological diversity in the nation through seven real places in California—Oakland, Sutter Buttes, Mount Shasta, Yosemite, The Tehachapis, Coachella Valley, and Cordell Bank—depicting the state’s diversity of climate, geology, habitats, ecosystems, and wildlife. The reinstalled Gallery presents a fresh focus on California’s natural history, exploring current research, contemporary issues of land use, environmental conflict, and conservation projects. Innovative displays present the fusion of world-class dioramas with emerging technologies, citizen science projects, and visitor contribution to tell the story of California’s amazing natural world through the voices of local community members and the many scientists of these regions.

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. OMCA is situated between downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt.  Museum admission is $15 general; $10 seniors and students with valid ID, $6 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. For more information, visit

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