The Oakland Museum of California is my favorite museum in the Bay Area. The Oakland Museum is really three museums in one location. This great institution is made up of a Natural Science wing, a History wing and an Art wing. The Museum has undergone a 60 million dollar renovation to all three wings. The Natural Science wing is the last gallery to be renovated.
What makes this museum so special are all the interactive exhibits as well as the various video forums and the full sets featuring things like a 1950's kitchen, an old gold country bank where the prospectors brought their pan gold to be weighed and sold along with a small theater showing old silent films.
The Natural Science wing was really well done and laid out. You start with a huge topographical map of California, a "Welcome to Oakland" city limits sign and a giant oak tree city symbol. The topography and ecology of Oakland is next with an actual redwood grove, interactive maps of all the creeks in Oakland leading to Lake Merritt and the Bay. There's also a great display showing where the water in California comes from and where it goes. From the Mount Shasta area all the way to LA. One of my favorite exhibits is the Ocean life of California. There is a full scale Sea Lion as well as jaws of various sharks in drawers and on the walls. The end of the Natural Science gallery features a large room with projected video footage of under water life off the coast of California.
The Oakland Museum is a gem and a must see for any visitor to California. If you're coming to visit California you need to start at the Oakland Museum. This museum will educate you about everything California.
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