Monday, July 28, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Oakland Museum opens new natural science galleries

Natural History and Ecology of Sutter Buttes to be Featured as One of Seven Significant Areas of Focus

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) announced the opening of the newly transformed Gallery of California Natural Sciences in the summer of 2013.

The natural history and ecology of Sutter Buttes in Sutter County will be one of seven areas of intense focus in the newly transformed gallery.

Visitors will experience the Golden State’s natural offerings like never before. Showcasing a fresh focus on California’s natural history, the threats it faces, and the relationships with nature, the reinstalled gallery draws on the museum’s extensive holdings and community resources.

This interdisciplinary gallery will feature relevant art and historical connections alongside repurposed natural science dioramas that merge new multimedia and interactive elements.

In the reinstalled Gallery, visitors will experience seven real places throughout California that depict the state’s diversity of climate, geology, habitats, ecosystems, and wildlife, while 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, enabling the new gallery to tell the story of California’s amazing natural world through the voices of local community members and scientists of these regions, while providing an immersive and intimate experience of the individual habitats.

 

Unique showcase

At 25,000 square feet, the vast gallery space is the only museum presentation of its kind to showcase a collective portrait of California’s rich biodiversity alongside human’s interaction with the natural world.

These converged storylines are showcased to raise awareness of the state’s environmental pressures that call for a heightened need for environmental conservation and provide opportunities for visitors to become involved in the future of California’s environment.

The new gallery project — which has been seven years in the making — is led by a curatorial team that is guiding a group of diverse designers, scientists, artists, builders, and community members, each of whom has made creative contributions to the project.

By incorporating different voices into the curatorial process through video interviews, co-creations with community groups, and citizen science projects, the gallery stays true to OMCA’s dedication to developing innovative exhibition and programming strategies that set a new paradigm for the way a museum engages the public.

The result is a gallery that exists as a place for authentic individual voices, offering multiple stories and perspectives, and providing a forum for lively discussion and exchange of ideas about our state’s natural world.

Continuing OMCA’s dedication to presenting interactive and participatory experiences, the gallery features “loaded lounges” where visitors can further investigate ideas and concepts, with opportunities for feedback and interactive dialogue; “investigation stations” where visitors can take a deeper look at the animals and issues using the tools and perspectives of naturalists and scientists, open areas for in-gallery programs and events; and the flexibility to bring in dynamic new ideas, artifacts, and exhibits over time. Current conservation issues, and the science to solving them, are embedded throughout the exhibits, providing insight into how visitors can be part of the solution to preserve California’s natural world.

 

New gallery

The Orientation Area of the new 25,000 square foot gallery puts California into an environmental perspective as one of the world’s top 10 most important conservation areas.

As visitors enter the space, the locations of the seven areas of California explored in the new gallery — Oakland, Sutter Buttes, Mount Shasta, Yosemite, The Tehachapis, Coachella Valley and Cordell Bank — are projected onto a large 3D topographic map, showcasing the spatial relationship of these seven areas within the state.

The seven places explored in the transformed Gallery include:

Sutter Buttes, a range of mountains that rises above the Sacramento Valley, were chosen as remnants of the vast habitats and species now largely eliminated in this area, and an essential migratory pathway for millions of animals each year. The complexity of land ownership in the region is a case study for presenting contemporary issues of resource management and stewardship found throughout California.

Mount Shasta, an iconic landmark, plays a defining role in the region’s ecosystems. Visitors will learn about the habitats that surround the volcano and how the water from it feeds and sustains local wildlife in a myriad of habitats, and is the source two major rivers, the Klamath and the Sacramento, and the people who depend on them.

Oakland, a complex urban environment that still has remnants of diverse habitats, underscores the theme, which runs throughout the Gallery, of understanding the human imprint — for better or worse — on California’s diverse ecosystems, and the different ways we are connected to it.

Yosemite’s spectacular beauty and diversity are known the world over. The gallery will not only depict the magnificence of California’s No. 1 natural tourist destination as the “Yosemite you know” with historic paintings, visitor-contributed photos, and vintage postcards, but will also depict the long-term human impacts to the park. The “Yosemite you don’t know” will feature the unique and threatened habitats most visitors never see.

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, is one of our nation’s 14 National Marine Sanctuaries protected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the centerpiece being Cordell Bank, an underwater coral topped mountain that is teaming with marine life. The food rich waters attract whales and seabirds from all around the Pacific ocean. The section features several new, large-scale environmental dioramas, two commissioned art installations, and a laboratory where people can investigate the diverse organisms of Cordell Bank, from tiny plankton to the Blue Whale.

The Tehachapis, a mountainous hub where the Mojave Desert, San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevadas, Great Basin, and Coast Ranges all meet, is a key area of ecological evolution. Impressive dioramas will reveal how species like the Tule elk were saved from the brink of extinction, where Mountain Lions thrive, and the new threats California Condors face in a changing landscape. (This section will open in December 2013.)

Coachella Valley is a desert of palm oases and sand dunes, rocky hills and dry pinon forests. Visitors will learn how uniquely Californian species thrive in this arid yet fragile environment. They will also see how the human populations taxes the scarce water supply and how diverse communities are working together to preserve the land. (This section will open in December 2013.)

 

The transformation

Created in 1969 as a “museum for the people,” the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) has revived its foundational premise with a groundbreaking reinstallation of its collections, coinciding with the major renovation and expansion of its landmark Kevin Roche Modernist building and the reinstallation of the museum’s three main collection galleries: the Galleries of California Art, History, and Natural Sciences.

Through this multi-year transformation, which began in 2007, was celebrated in 2010 with the reopening of the reinstalled Galleries of California Art and History, and is scheduled for completion in 2013 with the re-opening of the reinstalled Gallery of California Natural Sciences — OMCA has adopted innovative exhibition and programming strategies that set a new paradigm for the way a museum engages its public.

Featuring a participatory exhibition model that encourages visitor engagement and feedback, OMCA reflects the diversity of our complex and evolving state through the voices of people who live in and visit California.

With dynamic exhibition environments that showcase the integration of art, history, and natural sciences collections and present the multilayered story of California — OMCA aims to investigate the state’s diverse natural environment from a variety of perspectives.

Visitors encounter multiple entry points to explore the state’s biodiversity and learn about the natural and human forces that continue to shape it, while investigating their own role in the conservation of our natural world.

 

Funders

Major funding to The Museum of California Campaign is provided by the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation. Support for the Gallery of California Natural Sciences is provided by the National Science Foundation, California State Parks Nature Education Facilities Program funded by Proposition 84, the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the OMCA Natural Sciences Guild.

 

About the museum

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 1.8 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.

 

Visit information

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is at 1000 Oak St. at 10th Street, in Oakland. OMCA is situated between downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt.

Museum admission is $12 general; $9 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 museumca.org.

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