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About the Oakland Museum Women’s Board

 

Early History

The Oakland Museum Women’s Board (OMWB) was organized in 1955 as a support group of The Oakland Museum Association (est. 1953).  Its purpose was to serve as a women's auxiliary for the three existing Oakland museums: the Oakland Art Museum, the Snow Museum, and the Oakland Public Museum.

In its early years, OMWB members worked diligently to increase membership and sponsor fundraising events. When the need for a new multi-discipline museum became apparent, OMWB members were instrumental in helping to pass the 1961 bond issue to build the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) which opened at Tenth and Oak streets in September 1969.

The White Elephant Sale

By 1965, OMWB had become a well-established major fundraiser by organizing a "not-to-be- missed" annual event known as The White Elephant Sale (WES).  With more than 1000 volunteers contributing countless hours to sell millions of donated items, the OMWB has raised over $29 million dollars in support of OMCA.  Despite the prohibition of holding an in-person sale at our warehouse in 2021 due to Covid 19, OMWB reimagined the WES by producing an online sale which was brought to the public in May 2021. This first-ever online sale was a great success, raising $379,947 to underwrite OMCA’s educational programs, exhibitions, marketing, and more as it has for over 60 years.

 

The OMWB Mural

In 2014, the OMWB contracted with three prominent Bay Area artists – Vogue, Ernest Doty and Griffin One – to paint an aerosol mural on the Derby Avenue side of its 333 Lancaster Street warehouse. Owned by the OMWB, the warehouse is the site of their annual White Elephant Sale. The mural shows the Board’s pride in Oakland and its Jingletown neighborhood. The huge mural fills the entire side of the building from ground to roofline and is approximately 240 feet long and 30 feet high, encompassing 7,200 square feet. Showing a theme of nature blending into the urban landscape, it features several prominent characters, including a White Elephant with its trunk raised high. Iconic Bay Area animals and plants are also shown.

The White Elephant Sale – A Bay Area Tradition

The White Elephant Sale celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 2019, capping 60 years of fun and great bargains for shoppers from the Bay Area and beyond.  Organized and presented by the OMWB, all Sale proceeds benefit the Oakland Museum of California's programs and exhibitions.

The White Elephant Sale is only made possible by generous donations from the public. Thanks to our loyal donors, shoppers have been able to purchase the usual and the unusual over the years, including a pony, original paintings, pianos, cars, and estate furnishings.

Key to the continued success of The White Elephant Sale is a corps of nearly 1,000 volunteers. These tireless individuals are the heroes of the Sale, spending untold hours sorting, pricing, and displaying the countless items that we are so fortunate to receive. We are incredibly grateful to all our volunteers and thank them for their time, dedication and effort.

Oakland Museum of California (OMCA)

The OMCA brings together collections of art, history and natural science under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. OMCA’s groundbreaking exhibits tell the many stories that comprise California with many voices, often drawing on first-person accounts by people who have shaped California’s cultural heritage. Visitors are invited to actively participate in the Museum as they learn about the natural, artistic and social forces that affect the state and investigate their own role in both its history and its future. With more than 1.8 million objects, OMCA is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California’s dynamic cultural and environmental heritage

For more information, visit the OMCA website at museumca.org