The California Museum

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The Californian Museum
The California Museum.png
California Museum.jpg
The California Museum is located in Sacramento, California
The California Museum
Location within Sacramento, California
The California Museum is located in California
The California Museum
The California Museum (California)
The California Museum is located in the United States
The California Museum
The California Museum (the United States)
EstablishedAugust 10, 1846
LocationSacramento, California
Coordinates38°34′28″N 121°29′43″W / 38.57456°N 121.49528°W / 38.57456; -121.49528Coordinates: 38°34′28″N 121°29′43″W / 38.57456°N 121.49528°W / 38.57456; -121.49528
DirectorAmanda Meeker, Executive Director

The California Museum is the state history museum of California, located in its capital city of Sacramento. It is dedicated to Californian history and the stories of California. The museum is home to the California Hall of Fame and has more than 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of exhibits, event facilities, and museological archives.


Originally called the Golden State Museum, the museum opened in June 1998 as a unique public/private partnership. It was developed under the Secretary of State's office with ste bond funding for the facility and the opening exhibits. However, the museum's long-term management and financial support are the responsibility of a nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, no direct funding from the state supports the museum. Private contributions, augmented by proceeds from admissions and the Museum Store, fund the Museum's programs and operations. In May 2004, former First Lady Maria Shriver, working with the Secretary of State and California State Parks, presented an exhibit titled “California’s Remarkable Women.” This exhibit honors the legacy and celebrates the accomplishments of California's remarkable women of yesterday and today. The exhibit's success set in motion the idea for restructuring the museum with the mission of telling the story of California and Californian women, under the name of The Californian Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.

Shriver led a bipartisan effort to create this revitalized museum which operates as a nonprofit, non-partisan historical and cultural institution dedicated to telling the complete history of California, including the stories of California's women and under-represented groups in history. A revitalized Board of Trustees oversees the operations and has launched a multimillion-dollar capital campaign to design and develop the new Museum.

As of March 2011, Governor Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown are Honorary Chairs of both the Museum and the California Hall of Fame, along with an Honorary Board including former Governors George Deukmejian, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger and former First Ladies Nancy Reagan, Gloria Deukmejian, Gayle Wilson, Sharon Davis and Maria Shriver.


The California Museum and the California State Archives.
Indigenous Californians

Developed under a Native tribal advisory council over a two-year period, California Indians: Making A Difference is the only exhibit of its kind in California to use Native voice and to represent over 100 tribes across the Golden State. The 3,000-square foot gallery showcases the unique contributions of the state's Native peoples through artifacts, art, 13 oral histories at 6 video stations and an interactive Native language kiosk. Over 400 artifacts are displayed.

Utilizing the voices and experiences of the state's Native peoples, the exhibit presents stories of adaptation and triumph that ultimately prove California Indians have not only survived but continue to thrive in the state's constantly changing conditions. This permanent exhibition will feature new artifacts during its second installation phase scheduled for display in March 2012.

Japanese American Internment
A chest from Manzanar in the Japanese Internment exhibit.

Each January, the California Museum presents a joint exhibit and school program that centers on the internment of Californians of Japanese descent during World War II. Artifacts and photographs follow the history of Japanese Californians from immigration to the internment and the ultimately successful struggle to obtain redress for their wartime losses. This year, an expanded version of the exhibit will include original art, furniture and crafts made in the internment camps. The exhibit highlights fundamental concepts of rights and responsibilities, while providing an inspirational message of personal strength and perseverance. This is a permanent exhibition.

Silicon Valley

California Innovates: The Computer Chip is the first in a new a series of exhibits focused on the Golden State as a hub of innovation. Dedicated to the California-created computer chip, this first display explores one of the state's most prosperous industries. Through a hands-on, interactive display, the exhibit introduces what chips are, where they are used and how they are made. Open August 26, 2011 through August 25, 2012.

Hispanic Californians

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Mas Chisme de la Cultura/Spinning Cultural Stories opened on September 10, 2011, and completed on November 10. It features the original artwork of the Sacramento-based Chicana collective Las Comadres Artistas. The artists - Irma Barbosa, Carmel Castillo, Mareia de Socorro, Laura Llano and Helen Villa - have been leaders in the Chicana art movement for the past twenty years. Their bright and engaging paintings and installations speak to themes of feminism and community activism. It was open from September 10 through November 10, 2011 in the Maria Shriver Gallery.

Californian Women
Exhibit on Californian women in public service.

Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters In America reveals the history of a small group of independent American women who helped shape the nation's social and cultural landscape. Over the last 300 years, the sisters built and managed schools, hospitals, orphanages and other social institutions that have endured during eras when most women had few—if any—professional opportunities. As inspirational trailblazers, they corresponded with President Thomas Jefferson, talked down bandits and roughnecks in the Wild West and provided the first form of health insurance to Midwestern loggers. As an overlooked part of history, they played instrumental roles in significant American turning points—from the Civil War, Gold Rush and San Francisco Earthquake to the Depression, Civil Rights Movement and Hurricane Katrina. An adjoining installation features the history of a group of California sisters who came to San Francisco in 1872 and became pioneers in quality, affordable child care in 1878, long before its existence today. Open January 24 through June 3, 2012.

Exhibit displaying the Californian state symbols.

California's Remarkable Women, inspired by former California First Lady Maria Shriver, honors the achievements of the extraordinary women who strengthen, shape and serve California. Focusing on the limitless opportunities awaiting present and future generations of women leaders. This permanent exhibition will be remodeled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in California and re-opened on October 10, 2011.

Californian culture

The Skateboarding in California exhibit explores the California-created sport of skateboarding. From the earliest 1950s wood plank and metal roller skate wheel prototypes to the modern engineered marvels of today, rare boards and ephemera document the evolution of "sidewalk surfing." Highlights include many of the sports' firsts, including the first pro model skateboard, the first board with urethane wheels and the first Zephyr board. Over 200 unique items, many from The Sidewalk Shop, Skatelab and Z-BOY® Archive collections, are on display including Tony Hawk's autographed personal board, an extremely rare Willie Mays board and gear from over 30 California pros. Multimedia presentations featuring the revolutionary riders, artists and manufacturers reveal how riding concrete evolved from a subculture of teenage defiance to an iconic worldwide cultural phenomenon. Open July 2, 2011 through March 25, 2012.

California Hall of Fame[edit]

The California Hall of Fame was conceived by former First Lady Maria Shriver to honor legendary individuals and families who embody California's innovative spirit and have made their mark on history. Since 2006, the California Museum has held annual ceremonies to induct approximately a dozen notable Californians per year into this hall of fame, on exhibit at The California Museum year-round.

Constitution Wall[edit]

Constitution Wall, a six-story art installation at the museum.

Towering six stories over the Museum's courtyard, the public art piece RIGHTS inspires thought and comment. Sculpted into the massive wall are words taken from California's Constitution and chosen for their enduring meaning.

Depending on the angle of the light, different words leap forward. In the early morning or late afternoon, the giant word “RIGHTS,” the underlying theme of the piece, stands out, while at midday other “rights,” indicated by words such as “redress” and “assemble,” are more apparent. The artists’ grouping of the words adds another layer of meaning, punctuated by colors drawn from California's own palette of forest, ocean, and desert hues.

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

Minerva Awards[edit]

The Minerva Awards is awarded by the The Women's Conference (formally the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women) to are extraordinary women who have dedicated their lives to positive change in California. At the 2009 Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women, Agnes Stevens, Helen Waukazoo, Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. Kathy Hull received this year's Minerva Awards. This exhibit highlights the careers of these courageous women as well as recipients from past years.

Previous exhibits[edit]

Former State of the Health exhibit.
American Masterpieces
The Artistic Legacy of California Indian Basketry

Beautiful and rare baskets from over twenty different tribes will demonstrate why California Indian basketry is widely considered to be among the world's finest textile traditions. California Indians created baskets for a multitude of purposes; they used them for food storage and preparation, to carry their babies, to wear as caps, to exchange as gifts or dowries, and much more. A wide variety of utilitarian and decorative baskets will be on display.

Out of this World - Extraordinary Costumes from Television and Film

An exhibition of costumes from Star Wars, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Star Trek, and many more of the most popular films and television shows, to tell the story of how costumes play a crucial role in defining characters for visual story telling.

With Malice Toward None - Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition

This exhibit from the Library of Congress commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of the nation's revered sixteenth president. Charting Lincoln's growth from prairie politician to preeminent statesman, the exhibit addresses the controversies that marked the road to his presidency.

Treasures From Hearst Castle

An exhibit of objects was on loan from California's legendary Hearst Castle collection. The 40 remarkably diverse and beautiful art objects, many of which have not left the Castle grounds since their acquisition, were on display in galleries designed to recreate the ambiance of Hearst Castle. In addition to these extraordinary objects, visitors had the opportunity to view reproduction drawings by Castle architect Julia Morgan.

Latinas - The Spirit of California

As community leaders and activists, politicians and entertainers, entrepreneurs and artists, Latinas have helped build California. This exhibit recognized their achievements from the 18th century to today.

Treasures from a Trunk - California Pioneers’ Quilts and Textiles

Women have been discouraged from becoming traditional artists but have expressed their creativity through textiles, an art form both beautiful and useful. For women in the 19th century a quilt could be like a diary. Much of what women packed for their journey to California consisted of their own handiwork: treasured quilts, best dresses, baby gowns, and other needlecraft. The meticulous stitches and the fabrics used give visitors a glimpse into the long-ago lives of California women. A few of the treasures that were displayed included: a baby coverlet made by Tamsen Donner (who perished in 1847 en route to CA with the Donner Party); a catalog of stitches – a sampler of diverse skills; a “best” quilt, Blazing Star variation, includes subtle stitched patterns of diagonals, wreaths, and feathers in the off blocks; quilted petticoats and much more.

The Purse and the Person - A Century of Women's Purses

This exhibit uses purses and their contents as a window on the changing roles of women over the past hundred years - from Edwardian matron to 1980s Superwoman.

Under the Dragon - California's New Culture

This colorful action photograph exhibit shows how traditions from all over the world mingle in unexpected ways in California, forging a vibrant hybrid culture.

California Canines - Dogs With Jobs

Mostly known as pets and companions, 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, to protect the public in partnership with military and law enforcement units, 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.


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