Photographs from the state Capitol by acclaimed former Los Angeles Times photojournalist Robert Durell offer a vivid and insightful view of the rollercoaster ride of California politics. Two dozen photos are on display, along with a larger-than-life slide show of many more, accompanied by the photographer’s witty and incisive commentary that gives visitors the back-story behind each image.
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these passionate lifelong collectors, this exhibit spotlights key aspects of the black experience in America, with rare historical documents creating the context for sculptures and paintings by important African American artists.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 Latinos.
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 surfaces.
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, among others.
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 dreams.
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 California.
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 Smithsonian.
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 exhibit!
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 Crazy Car;
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 saddle;
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 Morgan.
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 history.
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 Parks.
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 portrays.
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 broadside.
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.