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Californians’ Weed Habits Get Their Own Museum Show

It’s high times at the Oakland Museum.


The conversation around marijuana legalization is staler than a three-week-old bud, but the Oakland Museum of California has plans to give it a refresh: Its upcoming exhibit, Altered State, looks at past and present weed usage in California. How does a museum handle such a sticky topic? Curator Sarah Seiter gives some pointers.

Put visitors in a receptive state of mind.
In the “Creative Grass” section—one of 10 in the exhibit—California landscapes are projected at an angle in a room “so as to create a tilt shift,” says Seiter. “It’s very reflective and meditative, literally an altered space for people to reflect.”

Have people ’fess up.
In the “Recreational Reefer” section is the Cannabis Confessional, where museumgoers will write down how they feel about the dub. “I thought we’d just get ‘Smoke weed every day,’” says Seiter of the trial run responses. “But it was a lot about relationships. Some people said that they couldn’t have a romantic relationship without weed, and others said that stoners are the worst lovers.”

When in doubt, ask for selfies.
To prepare for the “Profitable Pot” section, the museum put out an open call for selfies from marijuana-industry professionals across the state. “The range of people involved in the industry surprised me,” says Seiter. “You’ve got chemists starting testing labs, women who do a podcast about how to get stoned during the holidays with your parents, and even a marijuana yoga instructor.”

See Altered State Apr. 16–Sept. 25 at the Oakland Museum of California


Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco

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