This time last night I was just walking up the steps to the Oakland Museum of California, which was hosting a spectacular 30-hours re-opening celebration in honor of its recent renovation. There were deejays, documentaries, palm readers, and lots of vibrant, diverse, amazing exhibitions. It was "From the Mixed-Up-Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" meets "Night at the Museum," except in Oakland, on a beautiful spring night.
The only other time I'd ever been to the Oakland Museum was as a fourth-grader. We had driven all the way to the Bay Area to get a hands-on look at California history, and yet all I seem to remember about it was that there were koi in the pond, and that the adult chaperone in our group got lost on the 880 and we ended up in San Francisco. But last night--last night art was seeping in our pores. There are three main exhibits that are currently open to the public: "Art", "Nature," and "History." I don't think I've ever been to a museum that examined California identity so carefully, and displayed such an honest depiction of what it means to be multicultural. I was especially moved by the exhibit of art made in Japanese internment camps, many of them in the Bay Area.
There's something magical about being in a public place with lots of people late at night. It's almost as if the truly fascinating, exotic or curious parts of ourselves emerge when no one else is looking, and these are the parts most worth documenting.