California to Open First Museum Exhibit All About Marijuana

By May Wilkerson 10/08/15

Marijuana and the art world are together at last.

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The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is about to open what they are billing as the nation’s first art exhibition focusing exclusively on pot. The show, called "Altered State: Marijuana in California," will focus on the plant’s history and its social, political, cultural, and scientific significance.

It’s all happening during a crucial time for weed in California. After about two years of preparation, the show is set to open in April 2016, the same year recreational marijuana is expected to be on the state’s ballot.

"It's inviting the public to think about this moment where we're writing a chapter of our state's history," said Kelly McKinley, a curator at OMCA who is involved with the exhibition. "This is a history that’s being written."

Though this isn’t the first museum show to incorporate marijuana, it’s the first “real deal” marijuana-themed exhibition that will use a multidisciplinary approach. Taking up a 3,700-square foot temporary gallery space in the museum, the show was conceptualized and built by a team of experts with a broad range of expertise. “We have partners from the medical field, the political field, from the artistic point of view,” said McKinley, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “We want to make sure we have a broad representation of voices.”

McKinley explains that the show is not political, but rather meant to educate and provoke discussion. “We're not pro-legalization. We're not against legalization,” she said. “Our question was, ‘Can we create conditions that could get people to talk about it?’"

The exhibit will have various sections, one devoted to the plant's medicinal and sacred uses, one devoted to its political implications, and one section titled “Creative Grass,” dedicated to artists whose work has been influenced by marijuana. Said McKinley, “I can't tell you how many times Bob Marley has come up.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.