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Funding Hurdles Ahead For Downtown Tulsa Pop Culture Museum

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Tulsa Metro Chamber Mike Neal talking at a breakfast meeting of the chamber in Tulsa Friday morning. Tulsa Metro Chamber Mike Neal talking at a breakfast meeting of the chamber in Tulsa Friday morning.
This parking lot downtown is the proposed site of the museum. This parking lot downtown is the proposed site of the museum.
Rendering of OKPOP museum exterior. Rendering of OKPOP museum exterior.

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A museum to celebrate Oklahoma's own is a step closer to reality, but it also faces a huge financial obstacle and a short deadline to make it happen soon.

The idea is a Pop Culture museum showing everything Oklahoma and the only thing holding back the idea is the biggest thing of all - the money needed to build it.

5/19/2009 Related Story: Oklahoma Pop Museum May Be Built In Tulsa

The plan calls for a top quality museum, on what's now a parking lot for the Bank of Oklahoma tower. The spot is available and the concept is clear: a museum showcasing Oklahoma's contribution to pop culture.

Jeff Moore is director of the OK POP Project for the state Historical Society.

"It's a fresh story, and that's exciting to the Historical Society. It's a chance for use to showcase collections that we have been collecting, for years," Moore said.

The concept already has support from people likely to merit their own exhibits, like Kristin Chenoweth.

"It's not just about the red dirt; it's about the people who came from it. I, for one, will be there opening day and I can't wait to see it," actress Kristin Chenoweth said.

At a meeting Friday with legislators, the Chamber and Historical Society were pushing for a $40 million dollar state commitment in the form of a bond issue.

Lawmakers aren't sure about that.

"There's concerns about another bond issue," Lt. Governor Todd Lamb said. "There are other bond issues that have been floated around at the capitol. I would argue that the concept itself is long overdue."

Private fundraising is already underway with a $1 million challenge grant from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

"There are so many stories that just haven't been told, and not just music, but all popular culture," Moore said.

Those stories could be told if the legislature approves the bond issue. With that, the museum could open in 2015. Though supporters of the project want state money to build it, they're confident it will be self supporting after that.

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