Arts & Culture

Experience Ai Weiwei at the Crocker

Guest Contributor | Elena M. Macaluso

The Crocker Art Museum is buzzing with excitement about Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” which opened Jan. 24 and runs through May 1. The exhibition —  which is visiting Northern California for the first time and is Ai Weiwei’s  first major public art sculpture — features 12 bronze zodiac heads, each 10 to 12 feet high and weighing approximately 1,600 pounds.  The zodiac heads reinterpret those that once adorned the famed 18th century fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat outside Beijing.  In 1860, the palace was ransacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged.


As a new employee at the Crocker, who just came on board this past November, I have been hearing about this exhibition since Day 1. And let me tell you, to be in the presence of these magnificent sculptures is stunning, breathtaking and awe-inspiring. The zodiac heads are displayed — for free — in the Museum’s courtyard. You can see them peeking over the gates as you walk up to the Museum on O Street, and they serve as a stunning backdrop  while you dine at the Crocker Cafe by Supper Club or stroll through the Teel Family Pavilion.

I invite you to come and take a closer look. Learn more about the exhibition and the artist via cell phone tour. And, of course, figure out what animal sign you were born under, snap a selfie, and post #crockerart! Afterward, go inside the Museum for behind-the-scenes information, including a short video on the making of the sculptures. You’ll even have the opportunity to draw your own zodiac head.

Need lunch plans on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at noon?  Check out Lunch & Learn, which will feature a 30-minute, docent-led examination of “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads.”

Learn more about the artist, Ai Weiwei, by attending our documentary film and talk, “Ai Weiwei in Focus,” on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. You’ll gain insight into the controversial artist’s artistic practice and political activism while living under the authoritative Chinese government. Chinese contemporary art critic and scholar Jeff Kelley will provide additional information and answer audience questions. Tickets are $15 to $20.

The Crocker is located at 216 O St., Sacramento, 95814. The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m. Admission is $5 to $10. For more information, call (916) 808-7000 or visit


Guest Contributor | Elena M. Macaluso