Chris Howell, NewsOn6.com
TULSA, OK -- Visitors come Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum to see some of the finest pieces of art in the world. Now an exhibition called "Thomas Gilcrease and the Making of an American Treasure" explores the museum's founder as well.
"Early on he wanted to collect European art, but he came to realize very soon that American art was something that people weren't really collecting," explained Randy Ramer, Collections Manager for the Gilcrease Museum. "He combined that with his love of American history and created one of the world's finest collections."
This exhibition features more than 300 items including paintings, sculptures and valuable manuscripts that Gilcrease collected over 25 years.
Although it is only a portion of the museum's permanent collection, it provides a rare opportunity to view many of the invaluable artworks.
"He has artworks pertaining to world history, paintings of George Washington, battle scenes from the revolution, but also the great western paintings that the museum is widely known for."
One of the most important parts of the collection is the archival collection which features some of the earliest, rarest and most important documents in American history.
"This is the earliest document written from the western hemisphere, the earliest known document to have survived, it dates back to 1512. It's by Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus," Ramer said, pointing to an elaborate manuscript.
The breadth of the collection is vast, but the curators are sure to weave a common thread this particular exhibition, the life of Thomas Gilcrease himself.
"It's important for us to keep the focus on Thomas Gilcrease," according to Ramer, "because it really was through his effort that this museum was put together."
The exhibition runs through January 10th.