The Museum for the People

By Sharon Pittman.

Published by The Inclusive Museum, a book imprint by Common Ground Publishing

Format Price
Book: Electronic $US15.00
Book: Print $US40.00

Opening during the tumultuous sixties as “the museum for the people,” the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) has from time to time been at the center of political tensions that have become characteristic of the city known as “the home of the Black Panther Party.” The Museum for the People traces OMCA’s roots back to its pre-sixties origins, i.e. the period when its surrounding neighborhoods transitioned from predominantly white to increasingly African American. Three cultural institutions that were founded in the early 1900s merged, relocating to the current site during the sixties, and were met by protests before actually opening the doors of what is now OMCA. Delivering the history through the voices of individuals such as L. Thomas Frye, the Oakland Museum of California’s founding curator of History, and providing various current accounts from recent employees and visitor feedback, the author describes an institution that has remained viable by reaching out to “the people” during various critical times throughout its history.

Book: Electronic (PDF File; 2.584MB). Book: Print (Paperback). Published by The Inclusive Museum, a book imprint by Common Ground Publishing.

Dr. Sharon Pittman

Researcher, Inclusive Exhibits, Fontana, California, USA

Sharon Annette Pittman retired in 2012 from a 28-year career as a secondary school art and cross-cultural educator and currently teaches at the college level. Since 2004, she has been involved in research on relationships between historically marginalized peoples and institutions, particularly schools and museums. In 2004, she presented a scholarly paper on the Ebonics controversy at the Annual Modern Language Association Convention that was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her presentation was focused on the Oakland public school system. Other writings include a critique of James Cuno’s book Whose Culture?, in which she defended the rights of Third World nations in particular to have their cultural property repatriated from Western encyclopedic museums. It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Interdisciplinary Humanities. She is also a freelance arts writer for the Arts Council of San Bernardino County, specializing in articles on museums. The Museum for the People is an adaptation of her doctoral dissertation, which she successfully defended in 2013 to receive a Ph.D. in cultural studies with a concentration in museum studies.


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