In 1868, Judge Edwin B. Crocker purchased the property and existing buildings on the corner of Third and O Streets. He then commissioned Seth Babson (1830-1908), a talented local architect, to redesign and renovate the home into a grander, Italianate mansion. In addition, Crocker asked Babson to design an elaborate gallery building that would sit adjacent to the mansion and display the family's growing art collection.
Babson saw the home and gallery as an integrated complex, unique in design and demanding the finest materials. The gallery building included a bowling alley, skating rink, and billiards room on the ground floor; a natural history museum and a library on the first floor; and gallery space on the second floor. Completed in 1872, the Crocker family mansion and art gallery are considered the masterpieces of Babson's career.
In 2000, the Crocker appointed a selection committee comprised of elected officials, community leaders, CAMA Board members, City staff, and potential donors to search for an architect that would lead the Museum through master planning. After a comprehensive review of all of the major museum architects in the world, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects (GSAA) was unanimously chosen to guide the process because of their design aesthetic and past experience.
GSAA designed the expansion of the Crocker after conducting a thorough master planning process. Many voices from the community were involved in a collaborative process to ensure that the new building and the internal reconfiguration of the existing structures would work together as a whole.
The expansion more than tripled the Museum's size, enhancing its ability to serve as a cultural and educational resource for Sacramento and the region's many visitors. For the first time in the Museum's history, there are dedicated gallery spaces for all collecting areas. The expansion also enabled the dedication of the historic building's entire first floor as the Museum's Education Center, including four studio classrooms, three Student & Community Exhibition spaces, an expanded Gerald Hansen Library, the Early Childhood Resource Depot, and Tot Land. Additional amenities made possible by the Teel Family Pavilion include the Setzer Foundation Auditorium, the Crocker Courtyard, the Cemo Meeting Center, the Anne and Malcolm McHenry Works on Paper Study Center, and the Crocker Cafe.