Major Art Collection Donated To Museum

Monday, July 16th 2007, 7:06 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum announced a major art donation Monday, estimated to be worth more than $50 million. The Eugene Adkins Collection of art will be shared by Philbrook and the University of Oklahoma. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports the new collection of Southwest and Native American art is so large that even divided in half, it‘s quite a collection, enough to fill two buildings, one in Norman and one in Tulsa.

Half of the collection will be in the Fred Jones Museum of Art at OU, the other half in downtown Tulsa at a new satellite gallery of Philbrook Museum. A warehouse in downtown Tulsa will house half of the Eugene Adkins Collection. It was bought by the George Kaiser Foundation for Philbrook, to create enough space to house the massive new art collection.

"This collection is so large that for us to put most of us out on display, and that's what we want to do, would take most of the Philbrook and the Fred Jones Museum of Art,” David Boren of the University of Oklahoma.

The announcement that the collection will stay in Oklahoma is a coup for Philbrook and OU, which jointly won a national competition.

"These kinds of collections are put together over a lifetime,” said Randall Suffolk of the Philbrook Museum.

Suffolk says the art represents the finest paintings and objects from Native American culture, primarily from the southwest. It has never been on public display. It was in Mr. Adkins’ home until he died last year.

"I've heard wonderful stories. These things were almost cheek to jowl. These things were stacked up or positioned around his home,” Suffolk said.

The collection includes 3,300 objects, ranging from small pieces of jewelry to large baskets. They are made more valuable because Mr. Adkins kept all of his correspondence.

"Maybe letters bills of sales, comments when something was purchased, I think we have a bills of sales showing what a lot of things sold for, of course today they're worth considerably more,” said Ted Riseling of the Adkins Foundation.

The collection was appraised at $50 million and will be shared by two museums so that more of it can be on display.

Philbrook will move most of its already substantial Native American art collection to the new gallery space, which is expected to open in two years.

Mr. Adkins acquired his collection over a lifetime and had the money to do it, because his grandparents and parents made so much money in real estate and oil in the early days of Tulsa.

That's how he paid for it, but he had a sense of what to buy because he was trained in art and business. He died last February and the collection has been in storage since then.

Watch the video:

Philbrook Announces Major Art Donation

WEB EXTRA: David Boren Talks About The Eugene Adkins Collection Of Art

WEB EXTRA: Ted Riseling Talks About The Eugene Adkins Collection Of Art