Gallery of California History
Explore the New Gallery
The new gallery is based on the theme of Coming to California —an idea that evokes not only the arrivals and departures of people throughout human history and their interactions with the inhabitants already here, but also the notion of coming to terms with the influence of California on our individual and collective identities.
For nearly forty years, the Museum's Gallery of California History has enabled generations of visitors to explore major events and trends that have shaped California history. It has housed thousands of historical artifacts, works of art, ethnographic materials, and original photographs from OMCA's permanent collection—the largest, finest, and most comprehensive collection of California cultural material anywhere.
With this overarching concept, visitors explore chronologically arranged sections of the gallery presenting a variety of topics and periods in California history, as well as their continuing legacies today. Containing some 3,000 artifacts and art works, the new Gallery features sections that explore the history of California from the incredible diversity of early Native American culture, to the Gold Rush and growth of San Francisco, through the rise of Los Angeles and Hollywood, to the tumultuous decades of the 1960s and 1970. It concludes with a frequently updated and rotating gallery space that addresses current issues and contemporary perspectives.
Reinforcing the intent of the gallery to reflect multiple perspectives is a highly innovative design and interpretive approach that allows visitors' learning experiences to be driven by their own curiosities and to engage directly with the stories of Californians—many of them largely untold in traditional histories. Elements of the new Gallery include dramatic exhibit environments and multimedia viewing and listening stations, as well as informal learning spaces that allow for more in-depth exploration and contemplation. The Gallery also features several opportunities for visitors to contribute their own stories and perspectives on the California experience.