A glimpse into the personal holdings of these passionate lifelong
collectors, this exhibit spotlights key aspects of the black
experience in America, with rare historical documents creating
the context for sculptures and paintings by important African
American artists. Read the letter a slave girl carried, unaware
that its contents dictated that she be sold away from her home
and family. See original documents written by Rev. Martin Luther
King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Appreciate original artwork ranging from
an 1890 oil by still-life and landscape painter Charles Ethan
Porter to a photograph by renowned photographer Gordon Parks. The
exhibit is presented by the California Legislative Black Caucus
and its February opening celebrates Black History Month.
Watch this video to get a better glimpse of this stunning exhibit
and the people who created it.
Under the Dragon: California’s New Culture explores the state’s
diversity: showing how cultures, personalities and traditions
from all over the world mingle in unexpected ways in California,
forging a vibrant hybrid culture.
The vibrant photographs and exciting soundscapes reveal startling
cultural juxtapositions, including a young white minister
preaching at an almost all-black Baptist church, Latinos
converting to Islam in a suburban mosque, a 79-year-old Japanese
American earning her high school diploma and an Iranian therapist
with Cambodian clients.
This exhibit, created by Lonny Shavelson and Fred Setterberg, was
inspired by the photographer’s encounter under a Chinese New Year
dragon. When a rainstorm interrupted the annual celebration, the
photographer sought refuge under the 200-foot dragon and
discovered the unlikely alliance of people who carried it were
not just Chinese but also included Russians, Samoans, and
The exhibit honors those breaking cultural stereotypes, the
iconic traditions of the international community, and the
individualism that is a hallmark of California.
This exhibit from the Library of Congress will commemorate the
200th anniversary of the birth of the nation’s revered sixteenth
president. Charting Lincoln’s growth from prairie politician to
preeminent statesman, it will address the controversies that
marked the road to his presidency, including challenges to civil
liberties and the Constitution, slavery and race, and the
dissolution of the Union and the Civil War.
For the first time ever, the original artwork for the California
State Duck Stamps will be on display. These collectible stamps,
required for hunting waterfowl in California, raise money to
preserve wetlands and other critical habitat for ducks and geese
in the state. Since California started the nation’s first state
duck stamp program in 1971, it has generated more than $22
million to help our water birds. Thirty-seven original paintings,
in various media, representing each duck stamp since the program
began in 1971 will be on display. From wood ducks to wigeons,
mallards to pintails, the exquisite duck stamps highlight many of
California’s migratory birds.
This exhibit is in partnership with the California Department of
Fish and Game.
The California Museum opens its newest exhibit, Gold on the Bay:
The Remarkable Story of Gold Rush San Francisco to the public on
Saturday, April 18th. The exhibit features collages depicting San
Francisco as a sleepy Mexican outpost on through its formative
years past the boom of the Gold Rush. Artifacts ranging in gold
paraphernalia to pistols will accentuate the 28 surrealist
collages, which play on form, cultural resonance and textured
On the 160th anniversary of the California Gold Rush, the
exhibition will be a great venue to learn about the energetic and
yet dark underbelly of California’s ultimate boomtown. Students
of California history will find the pictorial exhibit unique as
it portrays the full spectrum of the diverse conditions and
nature of the city’s society, as well as provide a distinct
artistic perspective on its progression.
The collages Satty assembled are compilations of historic
illustrations and are accompanied by descriptive eyewitness
accounts dating from 1849 to 1890. The California State Parks
contributed to the exhibit by lending the Museum items best
portraying the various vices of the time, like Mexican playing
cards, opium stands, gold scales and a gambler’s Colt pistol,
Wilfried “Satty” Podriech (1939-1982) was a German immigrant who
lived in San Francisco as part of the Hippie counterculture of
the 1960s and 70s. As an artist and historian, he found little
difference between the rough and tumble lifestyle of Gold Rush
San Francisco and the transgressive chaotic city of his own time.
This exhibit presents evocative portraits of Southern
Californians, both historic and contemporary, by photographer
Harry Brant Chandler.
Inspired by his own family, whose dreams helped shaped Los
Angeles – from founding the Los Angeles Times to numerous civic,
business and real estate endeavors – Chandler set out to identify
those rare Southern Californians with the confidence and
imagination to pursue their dreams. Many are famous; most are
highly accomplished; all are inspirational. Dreamers, to
Chandler, are not content just to strive to be the best. They
have to, in fact, reinvent the path to greatness.
He created his portraits as a painter would, changing the
composition, removing non-essential visual details, adding or
enhancing the colors, replacing the skies and or the background,
and, most of all, placing his subjects in the context of their
From immigrants to billionaires, unknown wannabes to the world
famous, surfers to moviemakers, quacks to entrepreneurs, Southern
California has produced an unrivaled potpourri of dreamers. Meet
some of them here.
The quilts in this exhibit are reminders of an epic chapter in
California history. In one of the greatest migrations of
modern times, a quarter million Americans came West between 1840
and 1870. Many were drawn by the limitless possibilities of
California – gold, farmland, business opportunities, and
religious and cultural freedom. Leaving family and friends, and
braving a perilous trek across the continent, they brought with
them as many items from home as they could. Much of what women
packed was their own handiwork: treasured quilts, best dresses,
baby gowns, and other needlecraft. The textiles shown in this
exhibit are the artistic achievements of these women; some were
hauled cross-country, others completed after arrival. Passed down
through generations, they ultimately were donated to California
State Parks to mark a momentous era in California history.
Despite a common belief that they are newcomers to California,
many Latinas can trace their ancestry in the region back two
centuries or more. An important part of the California story
since the first Mexican settlers arrived in Southern California
in 1775, their struggles and their triumphs have shaped the past
and continue to influence the future. From activists to artists,
from writers to scientists, Latinas have been involved in every
field of endeavor. This exhibit highlights some of the remarkable
Latinas whose contributions have helped create today’s
A pesar de la creencia común de que han llegado a California
recientemente, muchas latinas tienen antepasados que vivían en la
región hace dos siglos o más. Una parte importante de la
historia del estado desde que los primeros colonos mexicanos
llegaron a las tierras del sur de California en 1775, sus
esfuerzos y triunfos han determinado el pasado y continúan
influyendo en el futuro. Desde activistas a artistas, desde
autoras a científicas, las latinas han participado en cada ámbito
laboral. Esta exposición destaca a algunas latinas
extraordinarias cuyas contribuciones han ayudado a crear la
California de hoy.
This exhibit highlights North America’s largest bird, the
California condor, telling the story of its brush with
extinction, and of the determined people who are fighting to save
this remarkable bird.
For millennia, the California condor sailed the skies of the
Pacific Coast. By the mid-1980s, however, the condor was
dangerously close to extinction, with only 22 individuals left
alive. Determined not to allow this magnificent bird to die out,
dedicated biologists, individuals and organizations captured the
last birds living in the wild and began a captive breeding and
reintroduction program. Thanks to their dedication, today there
are over 300 condors, with about half living in the wild.
Visitors can walk into a 360-degree panorama of condor country,
test their condor knowledge in a computer game, measure
themselves against a condor’s ten-foot wingspan, and see a real
stuffed condor, collected in Monterey in 1885 and on loan from
The exhibit was developed by the Ventana Wildlife Society, a
leader in the fight to save the condor.
Most of us know dogs best as pets and companions, but for
thousands of years, dogs have helped people with daily tasks such
as herding livestock, hunting for food, or hauling loads.
More recently, dogs have been used to help people with
disabilities, to assist in search and rescue missions, and to
protect the public in partnership with military and law
enforcement units. Some dogs even do unconventional jobs
like helping scientists track endangered species, locating
ancient burial grounds, or alerting wine grape growers to insect
infestations in the vines.
California has been a leader in developing specialized dog
training, and California dogs have served in many capacities
around the nation and the world. Meet a few of them in this
The 2007 California Hall of Fame exhibit includes a striking
40-foot wide display, designed by West Office Exhibition Design
of Oakland, California, that is the focal point of the Museum
lobby. The panel display features large scale portraits of the
inductees, photographs and their biographical information. The
artifact exhibit, located on the second floor, showcases in
greater detail each inductee’s unique contribution.
Celebrating the 2007 California Hall of Fame inductees, this
year’s exhibit includes over a hundred artifacts – many of which
have never been displayed before. Some examples include:
Original prints by Ansel Adams;
One of Milton Berle’s costumes as well as a wind-up toy Berle
A baseball and bat autographed by Willie Mays;
Rita Moreno’s dress from “West Side Story,” as well as her
Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy;
Jonas Salk’s lab equipment, including vials of the polio
vaccine from 1954;
John Steinbeck’s typewriter and original manuscript pages
from “East of Eden;”
Elizabeth Taylor’s costume from “Who’s Afraid of Virginia
Woolf,” for which she won an Oscar;
Earl Warren’s chair as governor of California;
John Wayne film memorabilia, including his boots, hat and
One of the most spectacular homes in the United States is located
on the remote central California coast. Known today as Hearst
Castle, the buildings at San Simeon were the product of a
decades-long collaboration between two remarkable individuals,
publisher William Randolph Hearst and renowned architect Julia
Hearst always called California his favorite place, not only for
its beauty but also for its climate of individualism. Here, he
could follow his own path in life and in business. The results
remain with us. Through the innovations he brought to his
newspapers, through his magazines that still are widely read, and
most visibly through the magnificent buildings he created and art
collection he assembled, Hearst left an indelible imprint on our
This exhibit highlighted some of the treasures that fill Hearst’s
castle at San Simeon. Approximately forty objects were on
display, marking the first time a significant grouping of
artifacts had left the Castle.
The exhibit was presented in partnership with California State
In 1769, Spain began colonizing California, building missions to
convert the indigenous people to Catholicism. As the oldest
buildings in California, the missions continue to captivate the
imagination. Starting in the 1880s, artists began creating
paintings and drawings of weathered adobe walls, red-tiled roofs,
and tranquil arcades that shaped a romantic vision of the
region’s Spanish-era past. Although reality differed from that
vision, the missions did set the course of history during their
65-year heyday, establishing the roots of today’s California,
from its agricultural empires of cattle and grain to its
architecture, cuisine, and place names.
This exhibit presented paintings from the Irvine Museum that
captured a moment in time, as some of California’s finest
Impressionist artists perceived it.
Thompson’s paintings remind the viewer of an era whose exuberant
style reflected confidence in the future and excitement about the
present. The hallmark space-age motifs and colors,
resurrected under the artist’s precise brush, transport us to a
time, real or imagined, when we bought our milk from a dairy and
went bowling after work.
Yet his depiction of broken neon and peeling paint jolts us out
of the past, a reminder that these signs are relics, hanging on
against a modern tide of uniformity. Across America today,
blandly familiar signs greet us – more tasteful perhaps, and
certainly based on more market research – but lacking the
personality and originality of the old signs that Thompson
An original copy of the Declaration of Independence was the
centerpiece of this exhibit.
On the night of July 4, 1776, John Dunlap of Philadelphia printed
approximately 200 copies of the newly drafted and approved
Declaration of Independence. The copies were sent by horseback to
the thirteen colonies and read aloud throughout the new nation.
The Declaration of Independence laid the foundation for personal
freedoms and individual rights in the United States. Beyond
serving as a proclamation of independence from Great Britain, it
set forth ideals for human rights that have become the blueprint
for democracy in America and around the world. Its words
are the basis of the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation
and the Bill of Rights.
Only twenty-five copies of this momentous document survive today.
Its stop at The California Museum was the only Northern
California appearance on a nationwide tour of this rare Dunlap
Original cartoons by Pulitzer Prize winners and other noted
artists from across North America poked some lighthearted fun at
California on topics such as the gubernatorial recall, the power
crisis, and our movie star governors. From Gary Trudeau to Pat
Oliphant —and including Sacramento’s own Rex Babin— everyone can
find something to admire —or criticize— in the Golden State.
These mostly pen-and-ink drawings represented a long tradition of
humor. In a section of historical cartoons, visitors could see
how the satirical eye of the editorial cartoonist has focused on
California again and again over the past century.
The exhibit was presented in partnership with the Association of
American Editorial Cartoonists and the Sacramento Bee.