Gilcrease Museum In Tulsa To Get $75M Transformation

Tuesday, January 29th 2019, 8:47 am
By: Tess Maune

The Gilcrease Museum is preparing for a transformation that's expected to bump city sales tax and bring thousands of new visitors to the museum each year.

The museum revealed an interpretive plan it says will allow Gilcrease to showcase its collections in a way traditional museums can't.

The plan provides the framework that will guide the museum’s visitor experience, focusing on three core ideas: "This American Landscape," "Identities and Communities" and "Encounters & Interactions."

The City of Tulsa said this project will forever change the way the Gilcrease collection is displayed through the increased use of media, storytelling and relevancy to 21st century America.

“As museums across the country rethink the ways in which they share their collections, and facilitate meaningful dialogue and community participation, Gilcrease will lead the way in our region,” a city news release said.

The $75 million capital expansion project will set into motion the museum's largest makeover in its 70-year history, helping it showcase more of its legendary collection and host larger exhibits.

“This is a monumental moment for both Gilcrease and the Tulsa community,” said Susan Neal, executive director at Gilcrease Museum. “Tulsa residents overwhelmingly showed their support for the museum in 2016 when they voted to pass the Vision Tulsa package, and this is the next step in fulfilling our promise. Our interpretive plan outlines the vision for our future, and it is reflective of what we are seeing in the Tulsa community, to think differently.”  

The plan calls for a new building facade and improvements to the grand entry and great hall. It will extend the permanent collection exhibition space and add state-of-the-art traveling exhibition space.

The museum will also add an interactive children's discovery center and expand its storage to make room for new collections. Additionally, it will update its landscaping, parking and expand restrooms.

Gilcrease says the upgrades are expected to attract at least 500,000 more visitors each year, bring in more sales tax revenue and add jobs.

“As we move forward with this transformative project, this investment will allow for more of the Gilcrease collection to be displayed and create space to hold world-class traveling exhibitions, bringing new life to the Gilcrease Museum,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Gilcrease received $65 million from the Tulsa Vision package, a private foundation added $10 million to that and the University of Tulsa, the museum’s managing partner, is working to raise $50 million more in private funds to ensure long-term sustainability.

Over the next few months the museum and city will work to select a design firm for the project.