Don’t put off seeing Oakland Museum’s perma-collections
When I was five, my dad told me not to worry about finding a round tuit. I could do it later.
“What’s a round tuit?” I asked, having never heard the term.
“It’s anything you keep delaying but finally do,” he said, a huge grin crossing his face.
Seven decades later, I again recognize how smart my father was: I’m still finding round tuits. Case in point — The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA).
My wife, following a neighbor’s recommendation, had repeatedly suggested we take our granddaughter. But one thing or another always got in the way. A couple of weeks ago, voila! — we at last got “around to it.”
And, as might be expected, I ended up feeling foolish for having postponed the visit so long.
The museum’s utterly fantastic — especially its state history exhibit, one of three permanent collections on display. Ranging from regalia-clad manikins of indigenous Klamath River people to today’s progressive developments.
Highlights include a Foley booth in which visitors can create their own sound effects; vehicles from bygone eras; reflections of long-forgotten border problems; a TV set with commercials marketing early edition Barbie and Ken dolls (and showing outdated test patterns); and an ancient Wurlitzer juke box with wonderfully nostalgic hits such as the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train,” Gene Autry’s “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and the Mills Brothers’ novelty tune, “Flat Foot Floogie.”
OMCA’s eclectic art part is also spellbinding.
From a vintage silver ceremonial-presentation trumpet to a series of striking black-and-white photos by Dorothea Lange of her family, neighbors and Berkeley environs rather than her more familiar “people in desperate circumstances — Dust Bowl refugees, victims of racism, and Japanese Americans imprisoned by their own government during World War II.”
The museum’s natural sciences perma-exhibit is likewise mesmerizing. Tons of animal reproductions (depicting habitats, the wild and food-chain confrontations).
The day I visited I was taken by the narrow range of patrons — surprisingly young (including one girl with more nose rings than I could count and a dude carrying a skateboard) — who obviously appreciated the dioramas and antiquities.
I’d expected more white-hairs like me.
The museum’s café, not incidentally, is remarkable. I’ve despised museum eateries all over the world because their prices tend to be high, their food low-mediocre. Here, lunch is exceptionally tasty (with generous portions), the price tag moderate.
Gardens, too, are worth a look-see, if only for a few minutes — as are temporary exhibits (currently J.B. Blunk: Nature, Art & Everyday Life,” through Sept. 9, and “Take Root: Oakland Grows Food,” through Jan. 13).
Over all, the facility provides much too much to experience in a single day. I, in fact, ran short of energy after four-and-a-half hours.
But I vowed to return.
Hence my advice to you: Get thee quickly not to a nunnery but to the Oakland Museum — even if you have plenty of time to get a round tuit.