Oakland Museum of California

The world’s largest collection of California art just added 2,100 new pieces and 5,000 square feet of gallery space.

Oakland Museum of California MJ10

A California arts and crafts masterwork turns heads.


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With its labyrinthine engine and swooping fuel tank, the souped-up chopper by Arlen Ness is a higher form of Harley than the kind many bikers straddle. In an all-new display at the Oakland Museum of California, the motorcycle stands with sculptures by ceramist Peter Voulkos and a mirrored peacock chair that nods to the city’s black power movement. After a two-year, $58 million renovation, the museum reopens at 11 a.m. on May 1.

“It’s not just about a bunch of paintings on a wall,” says Curator René de Guzman. “We want a wider-ranging, more free-flowing experience.” Already home to the world’s largest collection of California art, the museum has added some 2,100 new pieces and 5,000 square feet of gallery space, with a special room devoted to Depression-era photographs by Dorothea Lange.

There are paintings, of course, including brash landscapes by mid-20th-century giant Richard Diebenkorn. Yet the watchword is diversity, from edgy Mexican street posters to computers where visitors create self-portraits and post them to screens on the walls. (510) 238-2200, museumca.org.

Photography by Terry Carroll

This article was first published in May 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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