Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum Building $10 Million Research Wing

Thursday, September 16th 2010, 9:05 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- There's a $10 million expansion planned at Gilcrease Museum and it will be the largest addition in 25 years.

It's a plan to build out the research arm of Gilcrease, which was a major goal of the University of Tulsa, which now manages Gilcrease.

9/15/2010 Related Story: New Research Wing To Be Built At Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum

There are thousands of artifacts that were collected by Thomas Gilcrease, which have never been seriously studied, because there's not enough room in the work areas of the museum. The galleries at Gilcrease are large, but the archives remain practically unavailable to historians.

"We have a very extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts, but we have very little space for researchers to access the collection," said Dr. Duane King, Gilcrease Director.

So while colonial documents in English have been studied, another 100,000 pages in Spanish have yet to be translated. That's just one reason Gilcrease plans to build the addition.

The new Gilcrease research building will be near the original Gilcrease home. The new addition won't be physically connected to the museum building. It will be across a parking lot, replacing a building now used for landscaping.

Gilcrease last expanded in 1987, when it went beyond the original walls of the private museum built by Mr. Gilcrease. Back then the Helmerich family contributed $1 million, now Walt Helmerich has pledged another $5 million to start the fundraising for the new addition.

"The University of Tulsa and its partnership with the City of Tulsa has gained the confidence of the philanthropic community in Tulsa and it's made a big difference in the operation of the museum," King said.

One of the last big changes at Gilcrease was in 2004 when a new discovery center gave visitors more access to the collection. The new addition could do the same thing for researchers, who still believe there are discoveries to be made at Gilcrease.

The Helmerich money is a challenge grant, but Dr. King told News On 6 reporter Emory Bryan he believes they'll be able to finish out the fundraising and start building in about two years.