Oakland Museum of California


A community-engaged research effort that explored how a museum could deploy creative placemaking and placekeeping to better support the communities it serves.


Client: Oakland Museum of California
Role: Designer, Social Innovation Strategist


Creative placemaking is defined as public, private, not-for-profit, and community sectors partnering to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city, or region through arts, design, and cultural activities.

Creative placekeeping is about working with existing communities to understand and find value in what are their existing needs and desires as well as their native assets, then channeling that knowledge through arts, design, and cultural activities that lead to physically and socially responsive, complimentary, and amplifying outcomes. Increasingly, conversations about creating and supporting more equitable communities and institutions are focused on the need to do both.

For these concepts to be successful, it requires working with local communities – or citizen experts – in a collaborative, human-centered process. And through targeted tactical activations, these citizen experts can be engaged to yield data that can inform more strategic, longer-term engagement related to both of these concepts.

This project was a collaboration with OMCA (Oakland Museum of California) to understand how creative placekeeping and placemaking could help the museum define both a meaningful role that it could have in the life of local residents and museum visitors and the role that public ends and visitor needs and desires can play in shaping what the museum is, does, and aspires to be. The core piece of the collaboration were a series of engagement known as Citizen Expert Activations that worked creatively, iteratively, and tangibly with museum visitors and the general public to develop a framework for these concepts in the OMCA context.

The insights from this work have helped to shape the OMCA’s ongoing effort to seed collaborative installations from artists and community groups.

Back to top Arrow