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Above and Below: Stories From Our Changing Bay unveils the quirky stories of how people and nature together have shaped the San Francisco Bay Area over the last 6,000 years. The first major exhibition to be presented with all three of OMCA’s transformed galleries of California Art, History, and Natural Sciences open to the public, the exhibition highlights historic and contemporary place-based stories about the Bay, and engages viewers in discussions about the Bay’s future.

Through an extensive use of media featuring oral histories, community voices, and interactives, the exhibition explores how human engineering and natural forces have come together over time to shape and reshape the land and water around the San Francisco Bay, and how sea-level rise, wetlands restoration, invasive species, and climate change are central topics in determining the future of the Bay.

As a member of the Core Work Team I guided the effort responsible for representing the Project Team in the creation of the overall conceptual approach to the exhibition content, design, experience, and messages. My role:

  • Primary facilitator to keep discussions and ideas flowing; advocates for the visitor experience originality
  • exhibition processes, and compelling design
  • Provide ways of organizing the ideas, art, and artifacts to create a memorable and emotionally engaging interdisciplinary visitor experience.

Floormap - In the High Bay, visitors encounter an expansive, large-scale map which allows them to have an aerial vantage point of the Bay. The Bay floor map provides a unique, region-defining perspective, placing the Bay in the center of the giant gallery just as it lies in the center of our region. This high resolution, walkable image draws people to the places they know, their homes, their routes to work – all in the context of the Bay. Visitors are frequently observed kneeling on the floor looking for familiar landmarks.Military Landscapes: Heyday of the Military - In a section on the militarized landscapes around the Bay, artifacts from OMCA’s collection and loans from the garrisons on Angel Island are mixed with historic images to illustrate stories of shipbuilding, weapons installations, and military bases.Drawbridge: A Hunting Community - The exhibition weaves in quirky, forgotten stories, illuminating the relationships we once had with the Bay and have lost. Here, a stage-set “hunting shack” tells the story of the town of Drawbridge, now a ghost town in the marshes of the South Bay. Visitors open doors and windows onto vignettes of the duck hunters who made their living harvesting the natural world of the Bay 100 years ago.A photograph from Bill Owens' Suburbia series illustrates the changes brought by the new Bay Bridge when it was completed in the 1930s; a digital map showing the change in population density throughout the Bay Area further illuminates how the ease of automobile travel enabled development. Image courtesy of Oakland Museum of California.Visitors take an aerial tour of the shoreline of the San Francisco Bay Area, with a video projection commissioned by the Museum for its current exhibition, Above and Below: Stories From Our Changing Bay and created by the Center for Land Use Interpretation. The shore around the bay has been altered by humans and nature alike, and viewing it from above can consider the Bay's history and our relationship to our environment. Photo: Shaun Roberts. Courtesy of Oakland Museum of California.This submarine propellor was made in Oakland in the 1940s. During World War II, the U.S. Navy installed a seven-mile-long net across the Golden Gate to keep out enemy submarines. Image courtesy of Oakland Museum of California.This submarine propellor was made in Oakland in the 1940s. During World War II, the U.S. Navy installed a seven-mile-long net across the Golden Gate to keep out enemy submarines. Image courtesy of Oakland Museum of California.The Futures Lounge is a flexible space, designed for mediated and unmediated experiences. When there are no programs, visitors peruse vintage images of what people once imaged the future of the Bay might look like, and are offered the chance to draw their own future visions. On Friday evenings, the space is a lively spot for expert-led discussions of current and controversial issues in the news.Conservators worked with CalTrans to conserve and mount significant artifacts like this Art Deco clock and “Stop Pay Toll” sign which once greeted passing cars on the Bay Bridge. A dynamic map of Bay Area development in the 20th century, created in conjunction with Stanford’s Spatial History Project, along with photographs of suburbia by Bill Owens, conveys the impact of the 1936 bridge on land use around the Bay.