The Oakland Museum of California's massive recent renovation signaled not just a cosmetic change, but an institutional one: Though the museum is still more than making good on its mission of showcasing California history, art, and science, in the last couple years it's made a point of doing so in a completely new way — a way that's dynamic, creative, and accessible, that's more experiential and less didactic, and that's entirely removed from the please-do-not-touch formality you'll find in many similar institutions. That meant reimagining the museum's physical space and recalibrating its notion of who and what California is; more concretely, it has resulted in undertakings like an ambitious, recently completed cataloging effort that gives laypeople digital access to some 27,500 objects, many of which aren't currently on view. But perhaps the best encapsulation of the museum's new ethos is The Oakland Standard, a series of contemporary art projects and events designed to engage museum-goers in unexpected ways. This summer, the Standard will be commissioning a collaborative short film that features professional actors recreating real-life stories from the museum; previous events have featured artists' talks and film screenings, in addition to communal meals, screen-printing workshops, and Turf Feinz performances. Please do touch.
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