Philbrook Museum – Tulsa, OK
“Artwork needs to be active, it needs to be activated, it needs to be able to tell stories that matter to people that live here” says Scott Stulen, the Executive Director of Philbrook Museum of Art.
The Philbrook is more than just a museum, it’s an active part of the community. It sustains a sacred part of Tulsa’s history in its hallways as well as advancing an ever-evolving collection in its galleries, a collection that meets people right where they are. “We really want this to be a place
that’s reflective of our community here in Tulsa and is welcoming to everybody. Anyone can bring their family, they can bring their friends, and it’s a place that feels like home” expresses Stulen.
Come to think of it, Philbrook does feel like home—a dream home—because it was originally created as a home in 1927. Waite Phillips, from Phillips Petroleum, built this Italian villa homestead for his wife Genevieve and his children, Helen (16) and Elliot (10), with the
intention to entertain friends. What a place to play! The exquisite Italian Renaissance-style home boasts Corinthian columns, an oak staircase, and marble fireplaces. The surrounding yard is also a museum of sorts, including 25 acres of gardens, cascading fountains, sculptures, a temple, and fields of delicate flowers.
This beautiful exterior is simply an entry point for the multifaceted Philbrook experience. As Scott says, “it’s finding the entry point for that person. There may be people that say, I’m not into art, I like gardens, great, we’ll use that—come in, or I’m not into either one of those things, but I like hamburgers. Great, we have that too. I’m convinced once we have you here, eventually you’re going to wander into that gallery.”’
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About the Collection
Philbrook is an encyclopedic museum. Meaning they have a full range of art in their permanent collection, everything from antiquity to contemporary. Its strength is in the Native American collection with a growing Contemporary Art selection.
Philbrook is actively collecting, focusing on adding more artists of color, female artists, and living artists—some from Oklahoma.
The temporary exhibits happen frequently, typically coming in as a loan from an outside entity, another museum, or a private collection. Philbrooks’ collaborative process of acquiring pieces for their collection often involves multiple curators, a Collections Committee, and a diverse board, constantly bringing creative concepts to the table, and “because we do collect a lot of living artists, we’re actually having conversations with those artists too,” explains Stulen.
Maybe it is because of its expansive collection, the gorgeous gardens, Friday burger and movie night, free entry for kids under 17, or all of the above- Philbrook has been a staple to the city of Tulsa. Embodying its Boom Town glory days and spearheading cultural diversity and inclusivity through its art, programming, and community impact. Stulen had been the Executive Director coming upon 6 years and is committed to making the whole idea of Philbrook dynamic, fun, and inviting—and so far it is working. “I think it’s really important to have the artwork that we have here, it’s not static, it’s changing all the time, we have multiple voices and perspectives represented at Philbrook.”
Ready to Plan A Visit?
Find Philibrook at 2727 S Rockford Rd, Tulsa, OK 74114-4104 or visit their website here: https://philbrook.org/.
Local Hotels & Restaurants
Philbrook is nestled in the heart of a historic neighborhood, Terwilliger Heights, in close proximity to Utica Square. There you will find locally owned restaurants, coffee shops and plenty of walking and shopping opportunities.
Stonehouse Cafe and Market – Gourmet market, cheery cafe with eclectic cuisine.
1748 Utica Square
Polo Grill – Upscale American eatery
2038 Utica Square
Pavilion on the Square – locally owned shopping boutique
1826 Utica Square
Ambassador Hotel Tulsa
1324 S. Main
Three Favorites from Philbrook
The Little Shepherdess
This painting is a longtime iconic piece of The Philbrook. For generations, Tulsans have been coming to see The Shepherdess.Read More
Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV
A recent acquisition to the museum, Kehinde is one of the leading contemporary artists in the country.Read More
Slumgullion (The Venerate Outpost)
Another relatively recent piece is the stained glass log cabin that is out in the field past the gardens.Read More
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