Before the Other People Came

coming to california: History gallery Section 01


The story of California begins with the native peoples who first inhabited it. In this first content section of the History Gallery, artifacts including baskets, tools, and clothing are displayed representing the diversity of native cultures in the region before the arrival of Europeans.


There are plethora of overlapping typographic voices in the History Gallery that directly allude to various times and places. Because the native inhabitants of the West Coast did not use written forms of language during the pre-contact era, it seemed inappropriate and disingenuous to ascribe a style to this section. Thus BEFORE THE OTHER PEOPLE CAME is set in the Oakland Museum of California's primary institutional typeface family, Benton Sans, lending it a neutral tone.

BEFORE THE OTHER PEOPLE CAME introduces a primary design language that will play out repeatedly throughout the gallery; flat wood surfaces cut at odd angles, or what the core team referred to as "wonkies."

Native clothing displayed on lifesize figures is one of the highlights of this area.

A rare frog crest hat was put on display for a limited time in this part of the gallery before being returned to the Kaach.ádi clan of the Tlingit in Wrangell, Alaska in the fall of 2014. The design pictured at the right for the display wall was based on Alaskan native shapes and colors, without appropriating any particular style.