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Oakland Museum of California Awarded $2.5 Million Grant from National Science Foundation
Aerial view of the Oakland Museum of California. Photo: T.L. Cheung.

OAKLAND, CA.- The Oakland Museum of California today announced that it received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of a groundbreaking transformation of its Gallery of California Natural Sciences and related programming. OMCA will draw upon the grant to develop Hotspot California, a dynamic, participatory installation that redefines the educational potential of wildlife dioramas and may serve as a model for the field with impact at the national level.

Dedicated to sharing the many extraordinary stories of California and its people, OMCA is adopting innovative exhibition and programming strategies and setting a new paradigm for the way a museum can engage its public. Hotspot California is part of a major renovation and expansion of the Museum’s landmark Kevin Roche building and dramatic reinstallation of its collections of art, history, and natural sciences.

The NSF grant comes only weeks after the Museum announced new grants totaling $3.1 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr., The James Irvine, and The Kresge foundations in support of the museum-wide renovation, reinstallation, and development of related programming. With the new grant from NSF, OMCA has surpassed 95% of its capital campaign goal for the $56.2 million transformation.

“We’re moving away from static wildlife dioramas towards a more interactive, engaging, and open-source exhibition model,” said Lori Fogarty, OMCA’s executive director. “Californians are being invited to contribute ideas and design sections of the installation, which will allow them to experience a stronger sense of connection to the environments featured at the Museum, at our very doorstep, and within greater California .”

“It has never been easy to secure funding for radical new ideas and programs, much less at times like these,” said Sheryl Wong, chair of the Oakland Museum of California Campaign. “The strong response from national, regional, and local funders to OMCA’s ongoing transformation reflects the power of ideas that come from this institution and its greater community. It reinforces the Museum’s role as a leader in fundamentally rethinking what we commonly refer to as the ‘visitor experience.”

OMCA is temporarily closed to the public as work on the galleries continues. The Art and History Galleries and many of the Museum’s enhanced public spaces are scheduled to reopen in May 2010.

The Oakland Museum of California | National Science Foundation | Sheryl Wong |

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