Now that the nights are getting longer and warmer, the Oakland Museum of California is introducing a new event: a monthly Summer Nights series that launched on Friday. Summer Nights events offer extended evening hours, half-price admission to all exhibits and galleries, as well as food and drink specials and special events such as book signings or screen printing demonstrations. As a highlight, classic 1968 films are shown at sunset on the Oak Street Plaza.
“It’s all about accessibility,” said Kelly Koski, assistant director Communications and Audience Development, at Friday’s event. “A lot of our customers don’t find time to come to the museum as often as they would like to. With the Summer Nights, we offer extended opening hours and a fun Friday night at the museum. We hope to appeal to everyone with that—families, young professionals, the culturally experienced.”
The special Friday event is related to the current 1968 Exhibit. The year 1968 was a turning point for a generation and a nation at war, and the Bay Area was at the forefront with an emerging California counterculture. The 1968 multimedia exhibition examines the events of the year while Summer Nights creates a fitting atmosphere through music ad films.
Summer Nights will fall on the final Friday of each month, when the museum will stay open until 9 o’clock. From 5 pm onwards, visitors can enjoy half-prize admission to the Gallery of California Art, the Gallery of California History, The 1968 Exhibit as well as the All of Us or None exhibit, which shows political posters from the San Francisco Bay Area.
After soaking in the art, visitors can enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer outside in the plaza, while Amoeba Records DJs spin 1968 hits by the Rolling Stones or The Grateful Dead. Once the sun has set around 8:30 pm, a classic 1968 movie will shown in the plaza and children as well as adults can enjoy free popcorn that is handed out before the movie.
Last Friday, Peter Yates’ movie Bullitt was shown, and the Birch family came out specifically to see it. “On a nice night like this it is lovely to be out here,” Alex Birch said while unpacking his picnic basket. “We really like the outdoor plaza,” his wife Jennifer added. Their son, Satchel, was very excited about the movie: “I really want to see the cool car chase that was shot in San Francisco,” he said.
Paul Herzmark and Sheila McCormick came to the museum because of the 1968 theme. “We were teenagers in 1968,” McCormick said. “We recognized lots of things in the exhibit and now the music brings back so many memories as well.”
“The music was the most fun thing about 1968. The most memorable thing, however, was when Kennedy was shot. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 15,” Herzmark added.
Brendan Cox, who was born in Oakland, came to the event with friends and blankets. “I’m here for the movie,” he said. “This is an art event that gets people out to do different things than just hanging in a bar. It makes you see other parts of the community and I like that.”
Megan McLean, a member of the museum, came to the first Summer Nights event to show her support. “I like supporting my local museum and I live close by so this is a great spot for me to hang out on a Friday night,” she said.
Summer Nights will be held on the final Friday of each month through October. According to Koski, if things go well, they will become an annual event with a different theme each year.