The Oakland Museum of California: Wondrous Art for Bay Area Kids
Tucked away in downtown Oakland, this museum boasts an impressive collection of art by mind-blowing California artists and untold historical treasures to ponder. Of the great many San Francisco bay area museums, OMCA brings the undiminished history and splendor of California to life. Your kids will find a new appreciation for the Golden State after their visit.
Tips for before you go: For kids under five, choose one gallery to explore on your first visit to the Oakland Museum of California. Little eyes can only take in so much before they’re pooped. Follow this helpful museum guide for more practical touring information and you can also peruse their online educational resources. Kids may also choose to become history detectives at the Chevron History Hangout.
What to do: Upon first walking in the building, you may feel as if you’ve entered a Blade Runner set with its modern architectural design. Each floor houses a different collection and the steps between will lead you to a lovely koi pond at the bottom. Your children will enjoy nothing more than following the meandering path to run in the gardens for a breath of fresh air.
Explore three collections containing great works of art from prominent and lesser known artists. This museum tells the story of California from its early beginnings to present day. What a way to bring history to life for the kiddies!
Your jaws will drop in astonishment at the wonders of this collection of art spanning from early settlers in California to modern art. Some highlights include Tonalist paintings and furniture by Arthur and Lucia Mathews; photographs by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Anne Brigman, among other greats; early landscape paintings and works from the Gold Rush era; and figurative artwork by the likes of Richard Diebenkorn and Joan Brown.
This collection highlights the era before Europeans settled in California, but also comprises Native American collections; the Ohlone basket project; Asia and Pacific collections; documentary photography; photographs from the Oakland Tribune; and tools and technology. Children will enjoy stepping back in time to the early days of California’s history.
Nature (Temporarily closed for renovation until June 2013)
We’re excited to see the new developments the natural sciences gallery has in store for patrons. If they’re half as entertaining as past exhibits, such as the California Library of Natural Sounds, a Guide to San Francisco Bay Area Creeks, and the Rustler Ranch Mastodon, they’ll be sure to fascinate little minds contemplating the natural world.
Gardens and koi ponds: Take in the lovely views of Lake Merritt from the top floor of the terraced roof garden to the tiered gardens and paths behind the museum.
Nearby dining: You could try any of the nearby restaurants in Chinatown that are just a short walk from the museum. We also recommend Hawker Fare for their green papaya salad, satisfying rice bowls (try the “Satay” beef short ribs or “Vandouvan” tofu), and don’t forget to sample their Strauss organic soft serve ice cream in yummy sugar cones.
You can continue your artistic exploration at Mua which is a restaurant within a giant gallery space. Comforting menu items include crabcakes, a vegetable ragout, and juicy hamburgers. For lighter fare, try the CBQ burger (chickpea, bulgur, quinoa, walnut spice) instead.
Special note: If you’d like to support the museum, don’t miss their huge, annual warehouse White Elephant Sale on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4, 2012 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Free admission for children 8 and under. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. Free admission for all on the first Sunday of the month.
1000 Oak Street
Bay Area parents — do you have any insider tips on visiting the Oakland Museum of California with kids?