About the Junior Center of Art and Science
Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 3pm
Children Served: Over 30,000
Age Range: 2 – 17 years
Junior Center faculty design and present programs which support and enrich the K through 12 art and science curriculum in over 300 elementary and secondary school classrooms throughout Oakland and the East Bay. An annual exhibit program for elementary school students, after school and summer art and science courses for children and teens, and drop-in activities for visitors of all ages are offered throughout the year.
After World War II, members of the Junior League sought new ways to serve the community. An advisory committee of fifty-two educators, scientists, artists, government officials and community leaders recommended working with children in creative fields to provide new interests, encourage talent, and foster understanding in a climate of common interest.
Inspired by this idea, the Junior League invited the Art League of the East Bay and the East Bay Children’s Theatre to join them in exploring the concept of establishing a new center for children. In 1949 these three groups began an extensive study to determine the needs and goals of a “Junior Center”.
The Oakland Recreation Department became interested in the project and invited the three groups to join in the establishment of a “Junior Center” in Mosswood Park, creating a unique alignment of public and private agencies. After a five year fundraising campaign, the City’s allocated $70,000 was matched by the group. Following construction of the new facility the Junior Center of Art opened to the public in May 1954. Inspired by man’s pioneering exploration of space, the Center added “Science” to the it’s name by the end of the decade.
In April 1992, at the invitation of the Mayor, the Junior Center relocated to Oakland’s Lakeside Park. This new location along the shores of beautiful Lake Merritt, next to the bird sanctuary and public gardens, provided a wealth of new science and art resources.
On April 17, 1999 the Junior Center celebrated its 45th anniversary of bringing much needed art and science curriculum to the children of Oakland and the East Bay. The celebration took the form of a fundraising dinner which honored the Junior Center’s Founders. Proceeds from the event established the Founders Fund, the Center’s first endowment. Proceeds from the fund provide need-based scholarships for individuals and expand the number of outreach workshops presented in East Bay schools.
In April 2004 the Junior Center celebrated its 50th Anniversary with an open house full of free activities for the entire community. A year of celebratory events followed along with the presentation of the Center’s very popular art and science programs for children, teens and school groups. Later that year the Junior Center celebrated the completion of a succesful Capital Campaign which renovated its facility to provide 2 new studios, an update gallery, new and expanded decks for outdoor programs, and a Brick Tribute Pathway. The Capital Campaign also allowed faculty and staff to expand programming to serve more children and schools each year.
The Junior Center of Art and Science commemorated its 60th Birthday with a celebration in October 2014. If you would like to join the generous individuals, corporations, civic agencies, and foundations that support the Junior Center, please download the Giving Brochure, or call our staff at 510.839.5777.