The Excitement is Building!

Hilbert Museum expansion opened to the public on February 23, 2024

Our spaciously reimagined new home of one of the world’s largest collections of California narrative art officially opened to the public on February 23, 2024, capping an ambitious three-year project to expand the Hilbert Museum from 7,500 to 22,000 square feet as an expansion of the site it has occupied since opening in 2016.

The reinvented Hilbert Museum features a striking, two-building ensemble offering 26 galleries for rotating displays of the more than 5,000 oils, watercolors and drawings depicting everyday California life in the growing Hilbert Collection. It also includes a café, a community room for lectures, classes and events, a research library, and an outdoor courtyard with native gardens that create a new front door to the museum.

Uniting the two gallery buildings is a floating, open-air structure presenting “Pleasures Along the Beach,” a 40’ x 16’ signature 1969 glass-tile mosaic by acclaimed artist Millard Sheets that will serve as the ultimate preview of the California art inside the Hilbert Museum.

Once inside, guests will be delighted by the opening slate of nine exhibitions showcasing the museum’s commitment to California Scene narrative art from the 1930s to the present plus its rich holdings in animation and movie art, Native American art and American illustration and design.


The nine exhibitions on view beginning February 23, 2024, in the expanded museum include:

North Wing Galleries

California Art from The Permanent Collection

Curated by Gordon McClelland

Eight galleries in the North Wing are dedicated to showcasing the vast variety of oil and watercolor paintings, prints and drawings in The Hilbert Collection, from the late 1800s through the Depression-era rise of the California regionalist Scene Painting style to the works of contemporary Golden State artists working today. These galleries will regularly rotate new works into the mix. Featured artists in the opening round include Emil Kosa Jr., David Hockney, Phil Dike, Sueo Serisawa, Vanessa Helder, Rex Brandt, Serena Potter, Francis de Erdely, Frank Romero, Jesse Arms Botke, Edgar Payne, Burr Singer, Wayne Thiebaud and others.

South Wing Galleries

Millard Sheets: California Master

Curated by Jean Stern from The Hilbert Collection and other collections

Millard Sheets (1907-1989), perhaps the most celebrated of California 20th-century artists, could do it all: he was a superb painter, muralist, mosaicist, designer and teacher. His extraordinary work is represented here by 40 original paintings selected from The Hilbert Collection and other collections – and simultaneously honors Sheets’ gloriously restored “Pleasures Along the Beach” mosaic on the museum’s west-facing façade.

South Wing Galleries

A Matter of Style: Modernism in California Art

Curated by Gordon McClelland from The Hilbert Collection and other collections

This selection of works by California artists Agnes Pelton, Roger Kuntz, Helen Lundeberg, Conrad Buff, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, Susan Hertel, Keith Crown and others chronicles the groundbreaking impact of Modernism on California painting in the early 20th century.

Cinema Arts Galleries

Mary Blair’s Wonderland: Imagining Disney’s Alice

Curated by Mary Platt from the Hilbert Collection

Curated from The Hilbert Collection’s rich animation holdings is this ultimate Alice tribute to Disney artist Mary Blair (1911-1978), encompassing both Blair’s Alice in Wonderland movie concept art and original Alice art by other Disney illustrators created for picture books, record albums and advertising.


North Wing Galleries

Same Place, Another Time: Views of Orange County

Curated by Gordon McClelland from the Hilbert Collection and other collections

Since the early 20th century, Orange County has been a favorite location for artists to portray, from its shorelines and beaches to its farmland, towns and cities. These paintings, by such artists as George James, Helen Hafer, Joseph Kleitsch, Kerne Erickson, Rosemary Vasquez Tuthill, Bradford J. Salamon, Phil Dike and others, showcase the beauty of OC and the cultural and historical shifts that occurred in California from the 1930s to today.

James L. and Lynne P. Doti Gallery of American Illustration

Curated by Mary Platt from the Bank of America Collection and the Hilbert Collection

Norman Rockwell: Capturing the American Spirit

The beloved illustrator and classically American visual storyteller (1894-1978) is feted through original paintings, drawings and artist prints selected from The Hilbert Collection and on loan from the Bank of America Collection.

Founders Gallery of Native American Art

Eye Dazzlers: Marvels of Navajo Weaving from the Hilbert Collection

Curated by Mary Platt

These “eye dazzler” blankets woven by Navajo women in the late 1800s and early 1900s were known for their vibrant colors, intricate patterns and bold, geometric forms – many of which seem to anticipate the work of later color-field artists and modernist painters.

South Wing Galleries

Emigdio Vasquez: Works from the Fred Ortiz Collection

Curated by Fred Ortiz

Emigdio Vasquez (1939-2014), the acclaimed Chicano artist, muralist and teacher who started his career capturing scenes of everyday life in Orange’s historic Cypress Street Barrio District, is saluted with this selection of his social-realist paintings, curated by his longtime friend and local resident Fred Ortiz.

Founders Gallery of American Design

Art of the Airwaves: Radios from the Hilbert Collection

Curated by Clark Silva

Vintage radio takes on a bold new meaning with this collection of Bakelite and plastic shelf and tabletop radios from the 1930s to the 1950s. From Art Deco wonders to modernist pieces in rich colors and textures, these radios were designed by some of the top industrial artists in the world.


Come explore the newly expanded Hilbert Museum of California Art and these opening exhibitions!

The Hilbert Museum recommends FREE online reservations for entry. Guests who arrive without a reservation will be assisted by our staff as available and admitted as space permits.

We look forward to seeing you!