The Gilcrease Museum: Connecting to the Community During Renovations
Even though the historic Gilcrease museum in West Tulsa is closed for massive renovations, they are still very active as a ‘mobile’ museum. With Curations by Gilcrease at the Mother Road Market, a community engagement gallery, and multiple interactive exhibits across Tulsa, Gilcrease continues to honor its deep roots in Indigenous and Southwestern art and artifacts while discovering creative ways to build an ever-evolving new audience. Rosencutter, the Museum Store and Visitor Services Director, aims for Gilcrease to be a museum for folks from all walks of life. “We want people to be able to see themselves in the museum and to relate to the art and what it means to them.”
Curations by Gilcrease, a small gallery and retail shop on the North East corner of the Mother Road Market complex, is more of a community engagement gallery with half the space retail, filled with many things people will recognize from the former museum store like locally made art and jewelry, iconic images of the American Southwest, books, and memorabilia about Thomas Gilcrease and his extensive collection of art and artifacts. On the other side lives the community engagement gallery, used to display renderings of the new museum, along with a free art gallery featuring rotating artists.
“Many people don’t know of the museum at all, or they don’t even know that we closed. So they come in here, and then they go into the community engagement gallery, and they see the renderings and are like, Wow, I did not know this was happening. So
it’s important for us to stay engaged in the community and to build a more diverse audience while we’re closed,” explains Melanie.
Gilcrease Museum, founded in 1949 as a private museum by Tulsa oilman Thomas Gilcrease (1890-1962), holds one of the most comprehensive collections of art of the American West, along with historical documents and artifacts. Perched up on the Gilcrease Hills in West Tulsa, Gilcrease museum was the iconic field trip museum many children, including myself, loved to experience. The property is exquisite, with so many elements of the history to explore: from Victorian gardens to a hike down into magical lotus ponds, recreations of the Pioneer days, old growth trees surrounding the original 1913 stone home, and of course, the memorable museum holding the history of the American Southwest.
The massive renovations for the museum are in full force, and they expect to be open to the public in Spring 2025. Melanie explains that an extensive trails project is beginning, including 14 miles of bike and hiking trails. “I think people who live in Tulsa have an idea of what we are, that we’re Western and Native American art, and we are, but how are those stories told, how are they interpreted, how are they represented? I think we are amidst the new building, a new interpretive plan, a new identity”.
Currently, Curations by Gilcrease is hosting a free exhibit by abstract artist, entrepreneur, and activist Dawn Tree. In October, Gilcrease in Your Neighborhood is launching and will display three community-chosen pieces in 36 locations around Tulsa over a year.
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Local Hotels & Restaurants
So many places to eat, shop and explore at The Shops at Mother Road Market, right on the corner of 11th and Lewis on Route 66th.
- Show your Tulsa Love by purchasing custom design, screen printing, embroidery, and branded merchandise and apparel from Mythic Press: 1102 E. Lewis Suite E.
- Pick up some new books at Eleanors Book Shop 1102 E. Lewis Suite D
- Enjoy some Latin inspired snacks and libations at Gambil’s Coffee and Chocolate 1102 E. Lewis
Selection by Gilcrease Curators
Sealed Fate; Treaty of New Echota Protest Basket / Shan Goshorn
Chosen by Associate Curator of Contemporary Culture & Community, Jenny Keller. She says, “It speaks to Native history, contemporary issues, archives, anthropology, and art.”:Read More
Mother and Two Children / Lois Smokey
Chosen by Jack and Maxine Zarrow Curator for Indigenous Art and Culture, Dr. Chelsea Herr.Read More
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