Museum Opens First Major Spliff Exhibition on National ‘Weed Day’

A museum and a magazine have totally inhaled.

A Lemon Kush cannabis plant.
Photo: Flickr user eggrole, courtesy Oakland Museum of California.

Both museums and graphic designers are jumping on the 4/20 bandwagon, taking a close look at marijuana on National Marijuana Day.

The Oakland Museum of California has opened the exhibition “Altered State: Marijuana in California,” which it claims is the first museum show to concentrate on the controversial plant. The show’s contents range from fine art to protest posters and multimedia displays exploring the scientific, recreational, medicinal, and even religious aspects of pot.

“The roles of museums in today’s world are shifting,” says museum director Lori Fogarty. “We are dedicated to being a place where people can come learn about complex topics and, more importantly, add their voices and stories to the dialogue.”


A protester holds up a sign at San Diego Gay Pride in 2012.
Photo: Nathan Rupert, courtesy Oakland Museum of California.

The show takes place against a backdrop of national debates over the legalization of the drug, increasing acceptance of its medical use, and growing support for a California ballot measure to legalize recreational smoking, according to the museum. But it’s not exclusively serious, this museum show; take note, weedheads, that admission is $4.20 on April 20.

New York design firm Karlssonwilker's "L'Enfer est Volontaire" design.<br>Photo: via <i>Surface</i>.

New York design firm Karlssonwilker’s “L’Enfer est Volontaire” design.
Photo: via Surface.

And that’s not all. At the invitation of Surface magazine, twelve design firms, from Los Angeles’ Bruce Mau Design to Brooklyn’s MGMT, have proposed ways to brand the kind bud, including logos, products, and packaging. Brooklyn firm Omnivore promotes Water Water, a weed-infused bottle of good old earth juice, while New York’s Karlssonwilker proposes a bag of chips flavored with weed smoke.

By the way, how did April 20 become a day devoted to celebrating spliff, anyway? Apparently, no one knows for sure, but that hip guide to street culture, Time, tells us that, naturally, the Grateful Dead were involved.


“Altered State: Marijuana in California” is on view at the Oakland Museum of California April 16–September 25, 2016.

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