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State of the Arts

Whether your interests lie in the visual arts, music, food, history, space, architecture, or the media, Green Country has a museum for everyone.

Article
Michele Chiappetta and Rob Harmon
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
August 28, 2019

In an increasingly hyper-interactive world, the very notion of a museum seems rather quaint: the hushed environment, the quiet contemplation of artifacts and art, the idea of spending two or three hours not touching your smartphone.

But as it turns out, today’s museums are often a far cry from the dust-covered repositories of the ancient and discarded that so many of us recall from those grade-school class trips. Green Country boasts a wonderful palette of museums, historic houses, and simply downright odd collections brimming not only with relics of the past, but in many cases, cutting-edge interactive exhibits, live performances and cool classes for kids and adults.

If one hallmark of a community’s art scene is the variety of museums and galleries it offers, then Green Country, Oklahoma should be proud of the way it provides cultural enrichment to its citizens. We’re blessed with a fantastic selection of places to view classical and modern art, take art classes, learn about history, and come to a deeper appreciation for all the things that make the world magical and exciting.

Many of these spots are very affordable (some are free), and most offer a variety of programming of interest for all ages. You can take art classes, bring the kids to interactive courses, hear live music performances, and so much more. To get you started, we’ve put together a list of must-visit galleries and museums that make Green Country shine.
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ahha Tulsa
101 E. Archer St. | Tulsa
Interactive art is some of the best art, and ahha Tulsa is one of the most effective providers of this to the public in Green Country. Their current second-floor exhibit, THE EXPERIENCE, is a fully immersive art installation on a grand scale, allowing museum-goers to explore a multimedia landscape of sight, sound, touch, and movement. It is experiential art done well. Beyond their other, perhaps more traditional exhibits, the museum provides open lab sessions for anyone to work on photography, printing, drawing, metalsmithing, and more.

ahha Tulsa
ahha Tulsa

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Cherokee Heritage Center
21192 S. Keeler Drive | Park Hill
Immerse yourself in Cherokee tribal history, culture, and the arts by visiting this beautiful cultural center in the heart of the Cherokee Nation. The Heritage Center is situated on the grounds of the Cherokee Female Seminary (circa 1851), one of the first such institutions for women west of the Mississippi. Attractions include a recreated 1710 Cherokee village, a replication of an 1890s Cherokee village, a moving Trail of Tears exhibit, an annual art show, educational programming, and more.

Cherokee Heritage Center
Cherokee Heritage Center

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Darryl Starbird National Rod and Custom Hall of Fame Museum
55251 E. OK-85A | Afton
The National Rod and Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum in Afton, Oklahoma, is barely an hour from downtown Tulsa and completely worth the drive. The 40,000-square-foot facility contains over 50 exotic vehicles by the world-famous builder and designer Darryl Starbird and others. Memorabilia memorializing many of the most famous custom-built vehicles known to the world fills the place. Learn about street rods, view nostalgic custom cars, and explore different vans, pickups, and high-powered sports cars. See with your own eyes some of the most experimental concept vehicles that look straight out of the future.

Darryl Starbird National Rod and Custom Hall of Fame Museum
Darryl Starbird National Rod and Custom Hall of Fame Museum

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Five Civilized Tribes Museum
1101 Honor Heights Drive | Muskogee
Next time you’re in the Muskogee area, make time to visit the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, which exists to preserve the history, culture, and traditions of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes. Located on beautiful grounds in the historic Union Indian Agency building (circa 1875), the museum includes galleries of art by well-known Native American artists such as Benjamin Harjo and Jerome Tiger, as well as historical artifacts and cultural displays.

Five Civilized Tribes Museum
Five Civilized Tribes Museum

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Gilcrease Museum
1400 Gilcrease Museum Road | Tulsa
Just five minutes from downtown, one of Oklahoma’s most treasured museums is going strong and indeed better than ever. The Gilcrease, established in 1949, houses over 350 years of American paintings, sculptures and other pieces of art. Displaying artifacts from hundreds of indigenous people from all over the Americas, the museum is rich in cultural history and education. The galleries of Gilcrease enrich the soul and ignite the spirit of every visitor interested in creative expression. From pop culture to classic nature depictions, there is something for everyone here.

Gilcrease Museum
Gilcrease Museum

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Greenwood Cultural Center
322 N. Greenwood Ave. | Tulsa
In north Tulsa, you can learn about the impact of African-American culture in our area by visiting the Greenwood Cultural Center. View a moving, educational exhibit highlighting Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, a burgeoning and prosperous center for black businesses and jazz until the 1921 Race Massacre destroyed it. Get glimpses of what life was like in those days, and then cross the street to the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, where a beautiful monument offers a reminder of the power of change and hope for the future.

Greenwood Cultural Center
Greenwood Cultural Center

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J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum
330 N. J.M. Davis Blvd. | Claremore
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum shares the history of weapons and war with all its visitors through the world’s most extensive collection of privately held firearms. Over 12,000 firearms and thousands of other artifacts ranging from the Old West and World War I posters to local history and European, the museum is packed full of family-friendly history lessons. Multimedia presentations and helpful staff make time fly during a visit to the museum.

J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum
J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum

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Living Arts of Tulsa
307 E. M.B. Brady St. | Tulsa
At Living Arts, the focus is on promoting contemporary arts. The gallery rotates art exhibits throughout the year. They also host live art performances, as well as events such as their popular Day of the Dead Arts Festival in November featuring face painting, dancing, mariachi, salsa bands, merchandise, food, and drink. Educational programming for youth is also a part of their offerings. To see what’s new, you can always catch up with the latest news by checking their website.

Living Arts of Tulsa
Living Arts of Tulsa

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Outsiders House Museum
731 N. St. Louis Ave. | Tulsa
Perhaps no movie in the history of film has ever introduced more up-and-coming actors than a film made right here in Tulsa — the cult classic, The Outsiders. Set in Tulsa and filmed on location, Francis Ford Coppola brought to the screen local author S. E. Hinton’s story about a gang of troubled teens known as greasers. The house used to film where the Curtis brothers (Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop) lived had been in disrepair for a long time but was saved through the efforts of hip-hop artist, Danny Boy O’Connor. Now, it is the museum that will forever keep the film alive that introduced us to Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane and a few others.

Outsiders House Museum
Outsiders House Museum

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Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Road | Tulsa
116 E. Reconciliation Way | Tulsa
The Philbrook has two locations, each with a unique flavor. The Rockford site, near lovely Woodward Park, is housed in the Italian Renaissance villa-style mansion and 23 acres of landscaping donated to the city by oil magnate Waite Phillips. With a mix of permanent and rotating exhibits, movies on the lawn, children’s programming, and more, the museum is a busy spot. Its downtown location, across from Guthrie Green, focuses on more modern, interactive exhibits. Both are must-visit spots.

Philbrook Museum of Art
Philbrook Museum of Art

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Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
2021 E. 71st St. | Tulsa
Tulsa is blessed with a world-class museum dedicated to the concepts of tolerance, respect for diversity, the Jewish religion and culture, as well as remembering the Holocaust. Take in any of their collections and exhibits, and be prepared to be educated and inspired. One of the museum’s latest exhibitions, Jews in Space, explores the world of science fiction movies through artifacts, costumes, and other movie props. Showcasing talented Jewish actors, directors, and screenwriters, this pop culture exhibit is entertaining and educational for all ages.

Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art

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Tulsa Air and Space Museum
3624 N. 74th E. Ave. | Tulsa
You may be one of the few who has never visited the Tulsa Air and Space Museum (TASM) and Planetarium. If that’s you, don’t let yourself think for a minute that it’s just a big hangar full of old plane exhibits with plaques containing long paragraphs straight out of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It’s just the opposite. Prepare to be inspired, while learning something you’ve never thought of before, through high-tech and virtual-reality experiences found right here in Tulsa. Whether you’re a casual learner, an avid museum-goer, or an aviation or space exploration buff, there’s always something fun to do and new to see at this museum. The planetarium’s educational program has been revitalized in the past few years. Being one of only two commercial planetariums in Tulsa, the James E. Bertlesmeyer Planetarium provides a large assortment of local stargazing techniques, including a surprising view of the city’s skyline. Also, using the equipment and a collection of videos and programs provided by NASA, the planetarium presents a virtual reality way of exploring the stars that no other planetarium in the state of Oklahoma can provide. Visitors can see the universe around us in stunning high-definition visuals through a state-of-the-art dome theater, learning about our magnificent solar system and the galaxies beyond.

Tulsa Air and Space Museum
Tulsa Air and Space Museum

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Will Rogers Memorial and Museum
1720 W. Will Rogers Blvd. | Claremore
Claremore is a town rich in stories and storytellers, the best example being Will Rogers. Known as Oklahoma’s favorite son, Rogers was a member of the Cherokee tribe, a world-famous film star, and an accomplished traveler, having traveled the globe three times. His wit and talent for telling stories are well documented in the Claremore museum that carries his name. The Will Rogers Memorial Museum will make you laugh, learn, and be inspired, just like the man himself did for millions during his lifetime.

Will Rogers Memorial and Museum
Will Rogers Memorial and Museum

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Woody Guthrie Center
102 E. M.B. Brady St. | Tulsa
Dedicated to spreading the message of diversity, equality, and social justice championed by folk musician Woody Guthrie, this facility is home to the Woody Guthrie Archives. With this collection of Guthrie’s writings, art, and songs, the center draws international scholars and provides abundant educational resources for teachers and students. Rotating exhibits feature other well-known musicians such as John Lee Hooker and John Mellencamp. Event space is available for receptions, meetings, ceremonies, and presentations.

Woody Guthrie Center
Woody Guthrie Center

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Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve
1925 Woolaroc Ranch Road | Bartlesville
Explore a taste of the wild west and wildlife at Woolaroc. This 3,700-acre preserve is home to bison, elk, longhorn cattle, Japanese Sika deer, North European fallow deer, water buffalo, llamas, aoudads, ostriches, Sardinian donkeys, pygmy goats and other animals that roam freely. Enjoy hiking trails, picnic areas, and a museum filled with western exhibits. Once the country home of oilman Frank Phillips and his wife, Jane, the rustic lodge now serves as a popular spot for events such as weddings.  

Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve
Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve

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Also Check Out

Alexandre Hogue Gallery
University of Tulsa | 2935 E. 5th St. | Tulsa

D.W. Correll Museum
19934 E. Pine St. | Catoosa

Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education
124 E. M.B. Brady St. | Tulsa

Har-Ber Village Museum
4404 W. 20th Road | Grove

LeFlore County Museum
303 Dewey | Poteau

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Cultural Center
106 W. 6th St. | Okmulgee

Muskogee War Memorial Park
3500 Batfish Road | Muskogee

Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Drive | Jenks

Owasso Museum
26 S. Main St. | Owasso

Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum
9 E. Broadway | Sand Springs

Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center
18154 1st St. | Spiro

TAC Gallery
9 E. M.B. Brady St. | Tulsa

The Museum Broken Arrow
400 S. Main St. | Broken Arrow

Three Rivers Museum
220 Elgin | Muskogee

Tulsa Art Deco Museum
511 S. Boston Ave. | Tulsa

Tulsa Children's Museum and Discovery Lab
560 N. Maybelle Ave. | Tulsa

Tulsa Geoscience Center
610 S. Main St. | Tulsa

Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
2445 S. Peoria Ave. | Tulsa

November 2019 Cover