With New Director, Museum Has New Direction

Wednesday, May 7th 2008, 5:50 pm
By: News On 6

Gilcrease Museum has a new director, with a new mission, to make the collection of Western Art more available to the public.

The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports Gilcrease Museum is owned by Tulsa, but there are plenty of Tulsans who have never been there. The new director, Dr. Duane King, wants to change that and now has a new partnership with the University of Tulsa that makes change more likely.

Dr. Duane King says he spent a lifetime preparing for his new job. He first visited Gilcrease in 1971 while studying the Cherokee language.

"My first impressions were this was amazing, just absolutely tremendous collection," said Dr. King.

Now he's been hired as director, the first under a new agreement that has the University of Tulsa running Gilcrease and providing research expertise.

"And combined with the resources of the Gilcrease Museum and its archives, it creates a wonderful resource for any student of American history," said Dr. King.

King says while the Gilcrease collection is unparalleled, the building is too small to adequately show what's there, or to accommodate traveling exhibitions.

In February, the museum unveiled a new collection of 3,700 objects from the 101 Ranch.

The museum barely had room to work on cataloging the collection, and doesn't have nearly enough room to display it. That's a factor in why King wants to soon start studying how to expand the building and how to raise the money to pay for it.

"The museum has grown to the extent it can grow within these walls and we need more room to expand exhibits, to expand classrooms, to expand the educational opportunities offered by the museum," said Dr. King.

King says Gilcrease needs to be better promoted and more accessible, through a larger building, a new presence on the internet and more exhibit space so that more Oklahomans will enjoy a collection that many outsiders consider world class.

King is a TU employee and as of July, all of the Gilcrease employees will be as well. The city still owns the collection and building.