Fate Of Tulsa's OKPOP Museum Up To Lawmakers

Wednesday, May 6th 2015, 11:08 am
By: News On 6

For six years, the Oklahoma Historical Society has tried to convince the legislature to approve a bond issue to build the OKPOP Museum in Tulsa.

Supporters of the project say it is now or never for the downtown project.

The Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture or OKPOP would be built on the land in the Brady District which is currently being just for parking for Bank of Oklahoma employees. 

With just weeks left in the session - proponents of the project are spending a lot of time at the state Capitol convincing people that the museum could work - but they tell me it hasn't been easy.

The 75,000 square-foot, four story building would be built between the Jazz Hall of Fame and the Hardesty Arts Center.

"It's about pop culture. It's about music. It's about the Tulsa sound," said Ken Busby. 

The $40 million museum would feature interactive displays to showcase Oklahoma as far as popular culture - music, movies, radio.  And a number of prominent Tulsa area artists have already pledged their collections.

3/4/2013 Related Story: OKPOP Museum Receives Tulsa Musician's Memorabilia

"They can go to rock and roll hall of fame or country music hall of fame or other venues and make sure they have a legacy - but with all their connections with Oklahoma, they would like it to be here," said Ken Busby. 

The Oklahoma Historical Society tells us the hold up comes from other museum projects in the state that have cost more money than originally expected - and some lawmakers might be too nervous to green light another museum. But they say the money is already available to build here - by using retiring bonds and millions in private donations including $1-million from the Kaiser Foundation. 

Brady Arts District business owners call it a perfect fit.

"Everybody looks forward to what our next step is. We see empty lots available that are just aching for development," said Bob Fleischmen. 

They hope the OKPOP Museum could showcase to the state and the world just how many Oklahoma artists there are. 

"They come through Route 66 and say 'Oh, by the way there's also an arts center here how about that' It is just a great addition to Brady Arts District," said Bob Fleischmen. 

Read Senate Bill 839

As some have told us, it would be a crown jewel to Tulsa's constantly growing cultural skyline. 

The project also includes a six story parking garage and would be the only Oklahoma Historical Society location in Tulsa.

If funding is authorized this year, the OKPOP Museum could open in 2019.