Signature Exhibits


California Hall of Fame


The California Hall of Fame was established in 2006 at the California Museum by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver to honor legendary people who embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history. Inductees come from all walks of life and have made distinguished achievements across a variety fields, including the arts, education, business and labor, science, sports, philanthropy and public service.

Since then, the California Hall of Fame has been carried forward by each gubernatorial administration. Currently, Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom chair the event.

As the Museum’s signature program, the California Hall of Fame serves three distinct purposes for the institution:

  • Annual gala raising funds for all of the Museum’s operations, exhibits and programs for the year;
  • Landmark exhibit inspiring visitors through a display of personal artifacts on loan from the current class of inductees;
  • Learning program educating over 100,000 visitors annually with the diverse stories of inductees’ achievements across key fields of interest

Induction into the California Hall of Fame is an official award from the Governor of California given in an official State of California ceremony. Inductees are presented with Spirit of California medal by the Governor and First Partner, and their accomplishments are made permanent record in the California State Archives.


California Indians: The First People

Initially developed under the direction of a Native Advisory Council in 2011, “California Indians: The First People” presents the unique contributions of California’s Native Peoples in their own voice. Above all, it underscores that despite centuries of oppression, California Indians remain vital, nurturing their traditions while contributing to the modern state. 

Through artifacts, original art, oral histories and an interactive language kiosk, the exhibit chronicles the histories and cultural legacies of over 100 tribes. Highlights include the Chipped Stone Bear, California’s official prehistoric artifact; baskets woven by Native artists; a fur cape owned by Ishi; and more.


Constitution Wall

Towering six stories over the courtyard, Constitution Wall features sculpted words taken from the California Constitution chosen for their meanings to inspire reflection on the freedoms guaranteed to all Californians by viewers. 

Depending on the angle of the light and the time of day, different words become more prominent. The word “RIGHTS,” which is the underlying theme of the piece, stands out more in the late morning and early afternoon, while “redress” and “assemble” are more apparent at midday.

In addition to varied reliefs, the words are punctuated by the wall’s color scheme, as drawn from California’s landscape palette of forest, ocean and desert hues. Metal oxides embedded in the wall’s surface colors change over time, ensuring that  the Wall is constantly evolving like the Constitution itself.

Designed by artists Mike Mandel, Larry Sultan and Paul Kos, Constitution Wall was built by Frederick Meiswinkel Inc. in collaboration with Esherick, Homsey, Dodge & Davis. The sculpture was funded in part by the California Arts Council’s Art in Public Buildings program.


Gold Mountain: Chinese Californian Stories

Discover the history and contributions of Chinese Americans to California from the Gold Rush to the present day in “Gold Mountain: Chinese California Stories.”

This signature exhibition explores how Chinese immigrants came to California in search of a better life, then stayed and helped to build the modern state. In so doing over the last 150 years, they triumphed over racism and other obstacles with ingenuity and perseverance. 


Health Happens Here

Did you know your zip code can predict how long and how well you live? Learn why in the multimedia exhibit “Health Happens Here.”

Discover what Californians are doing to build health in communities across the state in this interactive journey through all the places and all the ways health happens in California. Through a series of high-tech games and interactive stations, visitors explore key factors that affect health beyond traditional diet and exercise while earning points that can be donated to 1 of 10 charities to make health happen for all Californians.

Engaging and educational fun for the entire family, “Health Happens Here” was developed in partnership with The California Endowmentand is a national award-winning, ongoing signature exhibit – only at the California Museum.



“The Promise” is a 70’ mural by Los Angeles-based artist George Yepes illustrating California’s transformation into the 31st state in the United States. Created for the Museum’s opening in 1998, the mural took Yepes more than seven months to paint. It is installed on a vaulted ceiling on the Museum’s first floor.


Sesquicentennial Quilt

The Sesquicentennial Quilt was created by the California Heritage Quilt Project to honor California’s 150th anniversary of U.S. statehood in 2000. 

Featuring vignettes depicting unique characteristics of the state’s 58 counties, the quilt was hand-stitched by more than 230 applique artists across California under the guidance of lead designers Ellen Heck and Zena Thorpe and organizer Helen Powell.


Unity Center

The Unity Center at the California Museum celebrates the state’s diverse people, customs and cultures.

Initiated in 1999 in response to a series of Northern California hate crimes, the Center’s interactive multimedia exhibits highlight leaders in the state’s rich civil rights history and encourage visitors to find common ground while embracing their own individuality.

Through advocacy tools and engaging educational programs, visitors are empowered to be Unity Activists, exercising their rights and standing up for the rights of others – regardless of belief, background, identity or gender. 


Uprooted: An American Story
Now Open

This fully rebuilt, technology-enhanced signature exhibit focuses on the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and explores how they responded to their forced removal and incarceration, ranging from quiet endurance to heroic valor to conscientious resistance. The exhibit also highlights Japanese Americans’ ongoing efforts to ensure no other groups experience similar civil rights violations.


Women Inspire: California Women Changing Our World

Developed in collaboration with California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, this long-term exhibit features the stories of more than 250 Golden State women from the 1700s to present, who inspire change and reflection on the ongoing struggle for equality.